(Jefferson City) (AP) – A voter report-card mailer meant to grade Missouri residents on how often they vote compared to their neighbors has some in the state claiming it’s an invasion of privacy.
Grow Missouri sent the mailers this week – days before the Nov. 4 election – as a way to encourage residents to vote in the state’s first general election in nearly a quarter-century that doesn’t feature a race for president, U.S. Senate or governor.
The conservative group is financed by investment firm founder Rex Sinquefield, the state’s most prominent political donor.
“We’re not advocating for a candidate or campaign,” Grow Missouri Treasurer Aaron Willard said. “It’s simply that we want people to be more involved and engaged.”
The report cards assign voters letter grades based on participation and also list neighbors’ scores. But some Missouri residents believe the mailer is an invasion of privacy.
The secretary of state’s office had gotten about 16 calls and several emails Thursday with questions and concerns about the mailers, spokeswoman Laura Swinford said.
Lynn Carrington received an A, but the 59-year-old retiree from Fulton said it is one thing for someone to check public records for his voter participation. It’s another, he said, to publish and share that information with his neighbors in central Missouri.
“Evidently it’s not illegal, but it’s really unethical,” Carrington said. “It’s like they’re trying to humiliate people.”
The group graded his neighbor, Bonnie Smith, with a C. She plans on voting, but said the mailer was “childish.”
“If you want someone to vote you encourage them, you don’t go shaming them,” said Smith, a retired 57-year-old.
Similar efforts nationwide from both conservative and liberal groups also have met complaints.
Some Alaskans have complained to the state director of elections about emails and letters from the Alaska State Voter Program asking about their voting histories. And the liberal group Defend Oregon sent postcards comparing residents’ voting history to their neighborhood average during the 2012 elections; neighbors’ individual voting histories were not included.
Willard said the report cards were sent out to random groups of people to see how the message impacts participation. If it works, Willard said the group might use it in future elections.
(St. Louis) (AP) – Washington University researchers are finding new clues about a rare respiratory virus that caused a recent outbreak among children.
In August, cases of the virus, called enterovirus D68, started being reported in children living in Missouri and Illinois. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 states have reported illnesses from the virus, which can cause flu-like symptoms and respiratory problems.
Researchers at the university’s Genome Institute have mapped the genetic code of virus samples taken from several children treated at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Their work will help efforts to develop better tests, treatments and potentially a vaccine for the virus.
“Knowing the whole genome sequence is a very important starting point for research,” Dr. Gregory Storch said. “The next thing is that it could be helpful to us in designing better diagnostic tests, and further down the road, it can be very useful for people trying to develop new treatments.”
Storch, a pediatrics professor, helped write a paper on their work in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The virus can be spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with contaminated surfaces. It primarily affects young children and most recover without lasting problems. Health officials say respiratory viruses are reported each summer and fall, but questions were raised over enterovirus D68 because it caused more serious, widespread illnesses.
More than 1,100 cases of enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in the United States since August. Eight children who tested positive for it have died.
“Something has changed about the virus or the way it fits into the community,” Storch said. “It seems to be emerging as a cause of widespread respiratory disease. We don’t know what the future holds, but we may see future outbreaks.”
(Willow Springs) – The US Environmental Protection Agency says a local company hasn’t done enough to protect a federally protected river from possible disastrous pollution.
Last week, the EPA announced that the Coastal Energy plant near Willow Springs has been the target of multiple inspections and inquiries from the state Department of Natural Resources and the EPA. The inspection reports from those groups claim that the company’s spill prevention plans are inadequate, and that oil and other pollution spills could end up in the federally-protected Eleven Point River, which would damage the area ecosystem, the Eleven Point’s tributaries, and area wells.
The company is also accused of discharging storm water into the Eleven Point River without inspecting the water for pollutants.
Instead of taking action against Coastal, however, the EPA and DNR have offered to work with the company, according to a letter from the EPA. That work will include a number of changes for the Coastal plant, including building a better spill containment system, creating better emergency plans, and stopping the discharge of storm water into the Eleven Point River.
If the goals are not met within 60 days, the EPA could refer the issue to the US Department of Justice or file a formal complaint.
In a statement this past Friday, Coastal said it has been cooperating with the EPA and will continue to do so until the issues have been resolved.
(Little Rock) (AP) – Trick-or-treating may get a little chilly in much of Arkansas this week as the coldest temperatures of the season settle in over the state.
The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties in northwest Arkansas beginning Friday night and ending Saturday morning.
Forecasters say a cold front will move through the area Thursday afternoon with significantly colder temperatures. The weather service says a hard freeze is likely in those areas with low temperatures falling into the mid-20s by early Saturday.
A freeze watch is in place for southern Missouri and northern Arkansas counties. Forecasters say those areas could see temperatures below freezing on Friday night and Saturday morning.
(Yellville) (AP) – Authorities in northern Arkansas say they will arrest a man who accidentally shot himself in the leg while trying to scare off coyotes.
Marion County Sheriff Roger Vickers says that the 44-year-old suspect is a convicted felon who can’t legally possess a firearm. He says the department is seeking the arrest warrant.
Authorities say the man shot himself in the leg with a .45-caliber pistol on Sunday after he tripped. A female passerby found him along the highway on Monday morning.
The suspect is hospitalized at the Baxter Regional Medical Center. His condition is unclear.
(West Plains) – After becoming frustrated with political parties and the government as a whole, West Plains resident Terry Hampton has pushed forward and become the Independent Candidate in the race for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District.
Ozark Radio News spoke with Hampton to learn where she stands on a number of issues and why she chose to run:
Hampton shared what her plan was to bring more jobs into the district, while keeping the ones that already exist:
Hampton goes on to share why she is opposed to our current Middle East policy:
Hampton added that while over the years the United States has spent trillions of dollars helping other counties, the financial state of our country has been ignored:
When it comes to the topic of education, Hampton applauds the area schools for doing has well as they have on such little funding:
Hampton then dove deeper into the topic of education and student loans saying that “a college education is not necessary for everyone”:
She also talked about Common Core education standards, saying that she can see an educator’s frustration:
Hampton also talked about her campaign, and the main issue she’s running on:
Currently a touchy subject in the nation has been gun control and the Second Amendment. Hampton shared her thoughts:
She also gave us her thoughts on gay marriage:
Hampton concluded our interview by sharing with us why she believes current 8th District Representative Jason Smith should not be elected:
Independent candidate Terry Hampton has been a resident of Howell County her entire life. For more information on Hampton or her campaign you can visit her website www.hamptonforcongress.com, or visit her pages on Facebook or Twitter.
All this week, Ozark Radio News will bring you interviews with candidates for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District.
Each of the five candidates will have a day to be spotlighted this week. As always, we believe the best way to vote is to be informed beforehand, and we hope you enjoy these interviews.
Candidate names were chosen at random for their particular day.
(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is urging residents to beware of Ebola-related scammers.
McDaniel has issued a consumer alert and says an increasing number of organizations are offering “cures” and opportunities to donate to victims of the virus.
McDaniel says consumers should protect themselves against ill-intentioned organizations. He says it’s disheartening that whenever there is any sort of tragedy, there are people who will exploit good-hearted, law-abiding citizens.
McDaniel says it’s important that consumers are aware of the facts and the methods that scammers use to take advantage of them.
McDaniel says there is no FDA-approved vaccine for Ebola and that solicitors offering preventative medication are likely scammers. He says residents also need to make sure that charities claiming to aid families of Ebola patients or Ebola research are legitimate.
(West Plains) – Law enforcement across the region are preparing for a possible uptick of activity on Halloween. Lt. Mike Coldiron with the Howell County Sheriff’s Office told Ozark Radio News that they’re always prepared for possible vandalism or general problems on All Hallow’s Eve:
Coldiron added that people can help protect themselves this Halloween by taking valuables out of their vehicles and making sure their vehicles are locked.
(West Plains) – West Plains City Clerk Mallory Hawkins spoke with Ozark Radio News earlier this week and talked about the city’s Halloween schedule:
If you’re not wanting your children to go door-to-door this Halloween, she says the Downtown Revitalization group is offering a nice alternative:
For more information on festivities in the city, call city hall at 417-256-7176.
(Mount Judea) (AP) – Officials have put another temporary hold on new permits for hog farms near the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas.
It’s the second moratorium placed on the permits for large or medium hog farms. The Baxter Bulletin reports the moratorium stems from a permit the state’s environmental quality department issued for the C&H Hog Farm to operate.
Having the temporary suspension in place gives time for the Legislature to review future animal feeding operations in the Buffalo River Watershed. The hold can last for up to 180 days.
Minnesota-based food processor Cargill holds the contract on the hog farm. It has already self-imposed a moratorium on expansion of hog production in the watershed area.
Environmentalists have feared farm waste could taint the river, but studies have shown that hasn’t happened.