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(Licking) – Three people have been arrested and one person has been charged in connection with a short-term drug investigation in Licking.

Corporal Pat Burton told Ozark Radio News that 26-year-old Dustin Studdard of Newburg, MO was arrested on November 20 and charged with possession of a controlled substance. Two Rolla men were also arrested, but charges had not been filed as of noon Tuesday.

A press release from the Licking Police Department states that the department, along with the South Central Drug Task Force and the Texas County Sheriff’s Office, conducted an undercover purchase of four grams of methamphetamine within Licking city limits on November 20. Studdard and the other two suspects were arrested shortly after the transaction was completed.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announces the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year old, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cristina Fletes-Boutte, Pool)

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announces the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year old, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cristina Fletes-Boutte, Pool)

(Ferguson) (AP) – A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision Monday evening. A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly since Aug. 20 to consider evidence. The panel met for 70 hours and heard from 60 witnesses.

McCulloch stressed that the grand jurors were “the only people who heard every witness … and every piece of evidence.” He said many witness presented conflicting statements that ultimately were inconsistent with the physical evidence.

“These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process,” he said.

As McCulloch was reading his statement, a crowd gathered around a car from which it was being broadcast on a stereo. When the decision was announced, Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, who was sitting atop the car, burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.

The crowd erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with items, including a bullhorn. Police stood their ground.

At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The panel met in secret, a standard practice for such proceedings.

The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.

The Aug. 9 shooting inflamed tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb that is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force. As Brown’s body lay for hours in the center of a residential street, an angry crowd of onlookers gathered. Rioting and looting occurred the following night, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Protests continued for weeks — often peacefully, but sometimes turning violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and police firing smoke canisters, tear gas and rubber bullets. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to briefly summon the National Guard.

Hours before the announcement, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon urged people to remain peaceful as he appeared at a news conference with the state’s public safety director and the leaders of St. Louis city and county.

“Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint,” Nixon said.

Some black leaders and Brown’s parents questioned McCulloch’s ability to be impartial. The prosecutor’s father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect in 1964. McCulloch was 12 at the time, and the killing became a hallmark of his initial campaign for elected prosecutor.

Nixon declined to seek the removal of McCulloch in the Brown case, but he also called for McCulloch to vigorously prosecute Wilson, who had been on the Ferguson force for less than three years. Prior to that job, Wilson was an officer for nearly two years in Jennings, another St. Louis suburb.

McCulloch, a Democrat, has been in office since 1991 and was re-elected to another term earlier this month.

Among the cases that McCulloch’s opponents cited as examples of pro-police bias was the 2000 shooting death of two men in a fast-food parking lot by two undercover drug officers in the town of Berkeley, which like Ferguson is a predominantly black suburb in what locals call North County.

Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(Ferguson) (AP) – Flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses in Ferguson early Tuesday and gunfire kept firefighters at bay after protests over the decision not to indict a police officer in Michael Brown’s death turned violent, despite pleas for peace from Brown’s family and others.

Protesters smashed windows out of police cars and buildings, several of which were later looted and set ablaze, and officers lobbed tear gas from inside armored vehicles to disperse crowds in scenes reminiscent of the early days of unrest that followed the August 9 shooting.

But the violence that followed Monday’s decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the death of the unarmed black 18-year-old quickly took a more destructive turn – a storage facility, two auto parts stores, a beauty supply store and pizza shop were just some of the businesses that burned.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said during an early morning news conference that he “personally heard about 150 shots fired” during the course of the night, but said police did not fire a shot. He said most of at least a dozen burned businesses were “total losses” and noted two police cars were “basically melted.”

Smashed window glass littered the sidewalks around many other businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to a McDonalds along the main drag. The Ferguson Market – where surveillance video had recorded Brown stealing cigars minutes before he was killed – was ransacked.

At least one building and several vehicles in a used car lot also burned in the neighboring city of Dellwood.

The vast majority of protesters had left the streets by late Monday, but looting and gunfire still were reported well after midnight.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department ahead of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s news conference to announce the grand jury’s decision.

As McCulloch read his statement, a crowd gathered around a car from which the news conference was broadcast on a stereo. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, sat atop the car. When the decision was announced, she burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.

A short time later, Brown’s family issued a statement asking people to keep their protests peaceful, echoing pleas they had issued several times in the days and weeks leading up to the decision.

But some protesters overran barricades and taunted police. Some chanted “murderer” and others threw rocks and bottles. The windows of a police car were smashed and protesters tried to topple it before it was set on fire, though some in the crowd tried to stop others from taking part in the violence.

Officers responded by firing what authorities said was smoke and pepper spray into the crowd. St. Louis County Police later confirmed tear gas also was used.

Congressman Smith, left, and Singletary after Monday's meeting. (ORN Photo)

Congressman Smith, left, and Singletary after Monday’s meeting. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – Congressman Jason Smith (R-Salem) visited Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative on Monday to discuss proposed EPA regulations on coal with officials with the cooperative.

Smith told Ozark Radio News that the proposed regulations will have a drastic effect on public utilities:

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Howell-Oregon Electric CEO and General Manager Dan Singletary echoed Smith’s sentiments about the proposed regulations:

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Singletary also talked about the sources HOEC uses to supply power to the region, and how the cooperative has helped the environment through some of their programs:

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Congressman Smith, who has been at war with federal agencies over what he considers burdensome regulations, says that with the new Congress taking office in January, he’s hopeful that legislators can keep the EPA and other groups in check:

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Comments on the proposed 1600-page EPA carbon emission plan will be taken until December 1. So far, over 1.1 million comments have been submitted nationally.

To leave a comment online, you can visit action.coop. You can also fill out a comment card and give them to your local cooperative. We have some of those cards here at the Ozark Radio Network offices, at 983 US Highway 160 E., West Plains.

(Jefferson City) – West Plains customers of Summit Natural Gas will be seeing an increase in their bill next month.

Many customers received a letter on Monday, stating that the Missouri Public Service Commission approved the company’s request to increase base rates, effective December 1. The letter states the average customer will see an estimate bill increase of $189 per year.

The price increase is being attributed to an cost increase for producing and delivering gas, increased inflation and taxes, and safety and reliability improvements.

People are urged to call 1-800-927-0787 with any questions.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri State Rep. Holly Rehder said Monday that after years of failed attempts, next session could finally mean a breakthrough for creating a prescription drug database.

Pharmacies would submit the names of people who buy a prescription drug, the quantity and date and other details. The data would be considered confidential but could be provided to doctors, pharmacists, regulators and law officers who have a subpoena or court order. Anyone who unlawfully releases that information would face misdemeanor charges.

Missouri is the only state without legislation creating such a database, which is meant to stop “doctor shoppers” from refilling the same prescription in multiple pharmacies, either to feed an addiction or to sell the pills for profit.

The bill had success in the House, but Senate lawmakers have cited concerns with personal privacy and the security of the database.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri lawmakers plan to make a new push next session to pass an agricultural package that could help dairy, cattle and crop farmers – this time, without a contentious deer-ranching provision that doomed the measure.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said the bill will be on a fast-track to passage without the captive-deer measure when legislators convene in January.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed this year’s version of the bill, citing concerns about shifting the authority to regulate deer farms and hunting preserves from the Department of Conservation to the Department of Agriculture. The Republican-led Legislature fell one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority in an attempt to override the veto.

But supporters are hopeful it has better chances without that contested provision.

Sen. Brian Munzlinger – a farmer and Republican from Williamstown – said he plans to draft a new bill with almost identical wording, including state-funded insurance subsidies for dairy farmers. The measure would require the state to offer to pay 70 percent of dairy producers’ federal insurance premium payments. The program reimburses farmers if the cost of feed for cows rises too high and starts cutting into their profits.

Larry Purdom, chairman of the Missouri Dairy Association, said it would make expensive insurance more accessible to farmers and could help some continue operating in rough years.

The bill also would require the University of Missouri to conduct annual research on the sales tax revenue generated from dairy products and to create a plan for boosting the Missouri dairy industry.

Students in agricultural degree programs who pledge to work in the industry would have access to 80 scholarships worth $5,000 if the legislation passes.

Cattle farmers would get benefits as well – the measure would protect them from lawsuits if people are injured by their herds. Weight restrictions on trucks carrying cattle also would be lifted.

The Conservation Federation of Missouri, which opposed the effort to shift regulatory authority over deer farms, said it would support a new version of the agriculture legislation lacking the deer provision.

(West Plains) – The West Plains Fire Department has finished clearing Buck Park for development of the new disc golf course in West Plains.

City Clerk Mallory Hawkins told Ozark Radio News that things are moving along nicely on the project:

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Buck Park is located off of BB Highway in West Plains.

With the tree above are FAO members, front row from left, Allison Sweatt, Camdenton; Jahmia Jujan, Dixon; Danisha Hogue, St. Louis; Zach Kaufman, West Plains; and Young.  Back row:  Reagan Caldwell, Plato; and TJ Wallis, New Bloomfield.  (Missouri State-West Plains photo)

With the tree above are FAO members, front row from left, Allison Sweatt, Camdenton; Jahmia Jujan, Dixon; Danisha Hogue, St. Louis; Zach Kaufman, West Plains; and Young.  Back row:  Reagan Caldwell, Plato; and TJ Wallis, New Bloomfield.  (Missouri State-West Plains photo)

(West Plains) – The public is invited to the 9th annual tree lighting ceremony at 3:30 PM Tuesday, December 2, in the Lybyer Technology Center at Missouri State University-West Plains.

This free event, sponsored by the Future Alumni Organization (FAO), rings in the holiday season on campus. Chancellor Drew Bennett will welcome guests, and the West Plains Elementary School choir will lead everyone in singing some seasonal songs. FAO president Darrius Young of St. Louis, will light the tree to shine on hand-made ornaments by students from the university’s various organizations.

Cookies and hot cocoa also will be served.

(Willow Springs) – The Willow Springs City Council met for a regular council meeting on Wednesday, November 19, at the Willow Springs City Hall.

City Administrator Bob Pollard presented years of service certificates to a number of city employees. Pollard also asked the council for approval to close Main Street on December 6, for the Christmas Parade. Parade line-up begins at 9 AM at Booster Field, and the parade will begin at 10AM.

Willow Springs Mayor Jay Waggoner stated that they need more communication in the community to help make the downtown a better place and that they also need to find a way to make people want to live in the Willow Springs school district.

Joy Ellsworth said that Willow Springs has tried in the past to find ways to improve the town. Missouri Main Street Connection has proven methods to help rural communities improve their town and grow businesses. The Willow Springs Development Corporation is funding the 40% of the 60/40 matching grant the Downtown Historic District is applying for. The council then approved the resolution of the city council for the support of the downtown historic district of Willow Springs to participate in the grant.