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(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Revenue Department would be blocked from considering how much a contractor would pay back to the state for running license offices under a proposal moving forward in the Legislature.

The Missouri Senate gave unanimous approval Thursday to a measure that would stop what some legislators have criticized as a pay-to-play arrangement that has disadvantaged nonprofit groups.

The Revenue Department has awarded contracts to run offices that issue vehicle and driver’s licenses in part based on how much of the profit bidders promise to pay back to the state.

Democratic Sen. Gina Walsh, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, says the money should stay in communities and the bidding process should more heavily consider nonprofits.

The bidding process was required under a 2009 law that ended a political patronage system.

(Rolla) (AP) – The Missouri University of Science and Technology has started a crowdfunding website, and its first project is to send students to a Mars rover design competition.

As of Friday afternoon, more than $9,800 had been donated. The ultimate goal is raise $15,000 to send students and the rover they created to a competition in September in Krakow, Poland.

The school says that donors who give through the crowdfunding site will receive perks in return for their gifts. Perks include 3D printed scale replicas of the Mars rover, parts from a former rover and a day with the team.

Crowdfunding is becoming increasingly popular at universities. Missouri S&T plans to use the fundraising methods as a way to meet short-term goals. Most campaigns are expected to last about 30 days.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Nearly $480,000 in donations to the late Republican Auditor Tom Schweich, who fatally shot himself this year while in the early stages of a bid for governor, has been returned to donors so far, campaign finance records released this week show.

Schweich had amassed nearly $1.4 million to run for the office before his Feb. 26 death at his home in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton. Campaign Treasurer Joseph Passanise can distribute those funds in any way Missouri law allows general campaign contributions to be spent, which include donations to other campaigns as well as being given to charities or returned to donors.

The campaign spent about $192,000 of its total on general bills and expenses between January and March, including thousands of dollars in severance packages for political consultants. Of what remains, almost $480,000 went back to contributors. Schweich’s committee still had more than $725,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.

The committee has not funneled any money into other candidates’ campaigns.

Schweich’s death – which came as he faced a primary battle with a top Republican competitor, former House speaker and U.S. attorney Catherine Hanaway – sent ripples through Missouri politics.

Schweich had told an Associated Press reporter by phone minutes before his death that he was ready to go public with allegations that the Missouri Republican Party chairman had told donors that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich was Christian but had Jewish ancestry, and perceived the remarks as anti-Semitism.

Police reports released this week show Schweich felt so abandoned by GOP supporters, who advised him against going public with those concerns, that he told an aide the day of his death that he would have to either “run as an independent or he needed to kill himself.” Police this week said the reason he shot himself still is unclear.

Schweich’s death also led to a dip in fundraising for Hanaway, who stalled campaigning “to allow everyone to honor and mourn Auditor Schweich’s service to our state,” spokesman Nick Maddux said in a statement. He said three fundraisers were postponed.

Hanaway raised about $51,000 between January and March, bringing in nearly $40,000 in cash and about $12,000 for in-kind donations. She had more than $1.2 million in cash on hand at the end of last month.

At Home Market has donated one of these five Fusion chairs to the West Plains Derby Social, with the winner choosing a custom fabric. Pictured from left is outgoing Boys and Girls Club board chair Bryan Adcock, Derby Social committee member Maggie Gohn, At Home Market manager Paige Ferguson, board member Emily Grisham, and Boys and Girls Club executive director Amber Adamson. (ORN Photo)

At Home Market has donated one of these five Fusion chairs to the West Plains Derby Social, with the winner choosing a custom fabric. Pictured from left is outgoing Boys and Girls Club board chair Bryan Adcock, Derby Social committee member Maggie Gohn, At Home Market manager Paige Ferguson, board member Emily Grisham, and Boys and Girls Club executive director Amber Adamson. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater West Plains Area is preparing for their annual Derby Social fundraiser, which will be held May 2.

Club board member Emily Grisham spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the event:

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Attendees will also have an opportunity to win a number of prizes donated to the event by area businesses:

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Some of the items include a custom Fusion chair from At Home Market valued at $415, and a Seiko Music in Motion Clock valued at $450 and a variety of Eleganza jewelry valued at over $1600 from Southern Hills Jewelry.

For more information on the Derby Social, call the Boys and Girls Club at 417-204-CLUB (417-204-2582) or visit the Boys and Girls Club Facebook page.

Some of the items donated by Southern Hills Jewelry include a Seiko clock and a variety of Eleganza jewelry pieces. From left: outgoing Boys and Girls Club board chair Bryan Adcock, Southern Hills Jewelry owner Joe Prewett, board member Emily Grisham, Derby Social committee member Maggie Gohn, and Boys and Girls Club executive director Amber Adamson. (ORN Photo)

Some of the items donated by Southern Hills Jewelry include a Seiko clock and a variety of Eleganza jewelry pieces. From left: outgoing Boys and Girls Club board chair Bryan Adcock, Southern Hills Jewelry owner Joe Prewett, board member Emily Grisham, Derby Social committee member Maggie Gohn, and Boys and Girls Club executive director Amber Adamson. (ORN Photo)

(ORN Photo)

(ORN Photo)

 

(Jefferson City) – The American Farm Bureau recently released the results of its first quarter Marketbasket Survey, in which 16 common food items are price checked. Nationwide the items totaled $53.87 while Missouri’s average price for the same items was $47.45, netting a savings of $6.42. One year ago, Missouri prices for the same items totaled $49.08.

Missouri shoppers found that five items had increased in price since the same survey was conducted in the third quarter of 2014 while 11 showed a decline. The total in the third quarter was $51.13.

Beef prices were split, finding ground beef dropping to $4.46 per pound compared to $4.82 last quarter. However, sirloin tip roast was up 17 cents to $5.16 per pound. Missouri prices for pork products, bacon and deli sliced ham, both dropped, while boneless chicken breast prices rose to $3.21 per pound.

Other items impacting the overall price increase were eggs, increasing to $2.11 per dozen; toasted oat cereal, $2.91 for a 9-oz. box; and a 20-oz. loaf of white bread hitting $1.36.

Prices decreased for Red Delicious apples, russet potatoes, orange juice, salad mix, 5 lb. flour and vegetable oil. Milk prices have shifted over the past several surveys, and this one found a 3-cent drop to $3.91 for a gallon of whole milk.

The United States Department of Agriculture projects 2-3 percent food inflation for 2015.

(Omaha) (AP) – The economic outlook for rural areas of 10 states in the Plains and the West remained negative in April even though it improved slightly from the previous month.

Creighton University’s Rural Mainstreet index grew to 46 in April from March’s 43.6, but any score below 50 suggests a decline. The indexes range between 0 and 100.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the strong U.S. dollar continues to hurt exports of agriculture and energy products. And demand for farmland remains weak, so land prices are declining.

The farm equipment sales index sits at 15.6, up slightly from March’s 15.2, but well below the neutral level of 50.

Bankers from rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A proposal to raise Missouri’s fuel tax for the first time in two decades appears unlikely to move forward this session, Missouri Senate leaders said Thursday, despite warnings from transportation officials about the future of the state’s infrastructure.

A bill that would raise the current 17-cent gas tax by 2 cents stalled earlier this week in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said he doesn’t want to waste more time on the measure and that the Legislature was apparently not going to address the problem. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, who supports the increase, said there’s no alternative out there.

The Missouri Department of Transportation faces a steep decline in the state’s construction budget for roads and bridges – from $1.3 billion annually in 2009 to $685 million this year, and it is expected to drop to $325 million in the fiscal year 2017 budget. Increasing efficiency of cars resulting in less gas use, the expiration of a bond program to finance transportation and increased construction costs have all contributed to the transportation funding problems.

To deal with the anticipated shortfall in the amount needed to fully maintain all of the state’s 32,000 miles of roads, the department plans to focus on fully maintaining one-quarter of the system.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, left, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (Twitter)

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, left, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (BCSO/Twitter)

(Mountain Home) (AP) – The attorney for two Arkansas prison inmates who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles told the state Supreme Court that both should be resentenced based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Jeff Rosenzweig argued Thursday to the state court meeting in Mountain Home that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling should be applied retroactively and Aaron Hodge and James Grubbs should each receive new sentencing hearings.

Assistant state Attorney General Valerie Glover Fortner countered that some previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings weren’t applied retroactively and that “inequality exists in the law.”

Both Hodge and Grubbs were 17 when convicted in the 1990s on separate murder charges. The U.S. Supreme Court in a separate Arkansas case ordered resentencing for a man sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile.

(West Plains) – West Plains FFA placed 32nd out of 338 chapters in the state, earning a Top Chapter Award at the 87th Missouri FFA Convention.

Only 10 percent of state chapters receive a top chapter designation each year.

Chapter activity awards, sponsored by FCS Financial, are given to chapters achieving excellence in student, chapter and community development, according to information provided by the Missouri FFA Association. The West Plains FFA Chapter advisors are Jay Hale and Tonya Jedlicka.

The West Plains FFA Chapter student development activities included a Career Success Day and a leadership training series. Community development activities included growing plants for a community container garden project. The West Plains FFA chapter also raises funds to provide food for children who are not getting enough food at home. The chapter recently received a BOAC grant, and they are using these funds to make improvements to the local fair.

The top chapters are submitted to the National FFA Organization where they compete for the National FFA Chapter Award. The competition will be this fall at the 88th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky.

The Missouri FFA has 25,829 members representing 338 chapters. The national organization has more than 610,000 members representing 7,665 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

(West Plains) – West Plains city clerk Mallory Hawkins recently told Ozark Radio News that weather has hampered the city transit building project, but crews are working in that area when they can:

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She added that street and engineering crews will work on a new storm drain in the city to prevent flooding issues:

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This weekend is the city-wide yard sale in West Plains. For more information call city hall at 417-256-7176.