(Fort Smith) – A physician who practiced in West Plains and in the Arkansas listening area has pleaded guilty to attempting to have sex with a child.
Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced Tuesday that 68-year-old Donald Wayne Lamoureaux of Ash Flat pleaded guilty to the charge of coercion and enticement of a minor.
Lamoureaux previously practiced family medicine in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas and Dexter, Missouri and was also employed at the VA Medical facility in West Plains, Missouri.
According to court records, officers with the Fort Smith Police Department began an undercover online investigation on January 4, 2015 searching for people who were using the internet to target minors for illegal sexual activity. During the operation, an undercover officer made contact with Lamoureaux and posed as a woman offering her four-year-old daughter for sex in exchange for money. The officer and Lamoureaux scheduled a meeting for February 6, 2015 at a hotel in West Plains so he could sexually abuse the child. He was arrested upon arrival.
Sentencing will be held on a later date. Lamoureaux faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, up to a life sentence, not more than $250,000 fine, or both, and a term of supervised release of not less than five years which begins after release from prison.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Fort Smith Police Department, the West Plains Police Department, and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Roberts is prosecuting the case for the United States.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld two constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to farm and the right to bear arms, but also said voters could go to court to challenge the summaries of ballot issues even after they’ve been approved by voters.
Judges could have voided the election results if they determined that the descriptions summarizing the two proposals on ballots last year were misleading. Instead, judges decided the voter-approved amendments will stay in place.
The court also ruled that residents can challenge ballot language after an election, potentially opening the door for questionable summaries to be disputed in later cases.
Lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office urged judges to dismiss the cases by arguing that critics were too late in filing their lawsuits. But judges said the current tight deadlines to challenge ballot summaries before an election, especially when proposed late in an election year by the Legislature, could make it difficult to challenge a measure before it hits the ballot.
Farmers, gun-control activists and other groups had sued the state over the two measures, saying the amendment summaries printed on ballots misled voters and didn’t delve into possible unintended consequences.
But the Supreme Court ruled that the summaries adequately hit the core of proposed changes.
The opinion on the firearms measure, known as Amendment 5, was rooted in part on the argument that it was intended to ensure rights already guaranteed to citizens by the U.S. Constitution.
Attorneys for opponents of the farming measure were not immediately available to comment Tuesday. In the past, they’ve argued that the amendment summary misled voters to believe that all Missouri residents – not just farmers and ranchers – would have the right to farm. The judges said the language was fair because the term “citizens,” which was used in the summary, also includes farmers.
The court’s ruling could give future critics of ballot summaries more time to challenge them in court.
(Houston) – A Raymondville resident suffered moderate injuries Tuesday afternoon after the vehicle he was driving ran off-road and overturned.
29-year-old William Goetz was taken from the scene of the accident to Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, according to a report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The accident happened at 1:47 PM Tuesday on Highway 17, about 3 miles south of Houston.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – A new Missouri measure aims to help families financially support those with disabilities.
The bill signed Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon would allow someone with a disability or their family to open a tax-exempt savings account to pay for related expenses.
The measure also allows for others to give tax-deductible donations of as much as $8,000 to the program, which then would be invested. Married couples could give as much as $16,000.
Any money in someone’s savings account through the program wouldn’t count toward total assets when determining a person’s eligibility for Medicaid or other benefits.
A new board led by the state treasurer will be in charge of the savings account program.
The measure was sponsored by Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt of Glendale. He’s running for treasurer in 2016.
(West Plains) – Street crews in West Plains are busy working on Walker Street this week, according to city clerk Mallory Hawkins:
City hall and other non-essential city offices will be closed Friday for the observation of the Independence Day holiday on Saturday.
(West Plains) – The Ozarks Small Business Incubator in downtown West Plains will once again be holding a QuickBooks class this month, according to Incubator executive director Heather Fisher:
More information on the class and other Incubator services can be found at www.ozsbi.com.
(West Plains) – The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater West Plains Area started their summer lunch program, called “Meet Up and Eat Up”, on Monday, and Club executive director Amber Adamson told Ozark Radio News that the Club is also providing activities for children who want a free lunch during the week:
Lunches are given to children at the People’s Park Pavilion in West Plains from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Adults may purchase a lunch for $3.
(Mountain Home) – The Friends of the Baxter County Library has announced the recipients of the 2015 Friends of the Library Scholarships.
Mackenzie Mohler is awarded the top honor and receives a $2,725 Friends of the Library Scholarship. Mohler will attend the University of Arkansas and plans to study pharmacy.
A last minute donation made it possible for the Friends of the Library to award two second place scholarships as well. Hannah Lundry, who will attend the University of Arkansas and plans to study engineering, received a $500 Friends of the Library Scholarship, and Kaylee Nelson received a $500 Friends of the Library Scholarship. Nelson will attend the University of Arkansas, studying in the medical field.
Scholarships were awarded based on submitted essays and an interview process.
by Jim Salter and Eric Tucker, AP
(St. Louis) (AP) – Police antagonized crowds who gathered to protest in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death last summer, violated free-speech rights and made it difficult to hold officers accountable, according to a Justice Department report that found across-the-board flaws in law enforcement’s response.
The report summary, which covers the two-week period of unrest that followed a white officer fatally shooting the unarmed black 18-year-old in August, also faulted officers for inappropriately using tear gas, withholding information that should have been made public and relying on military-style equipment “that produced a negative reaction” in the community.
The summary is part of a longer after-action report to be released in the coming weeks focusing on the actions of police in Ferguson, St. Louis city and county and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Details of the summary were first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday. The Associated Press later obtained a copy.
The report suggests that the protests after Brown’s death on Aug. 9 were aggravated by the community’s hostility toward Ferguson police and worsened when authorities didn’t quickly divulge details of his death.
“Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened,” according to the document.
A grand jury and the Justice Department both declined to prosecute officer Darren Wilson, who is white and later resigned, but another Justice Department report released in March was critical of Ferguson police and the city’s profit-driven municipal court system.
The after-action report was announced in September by then-Attorney General Eric Holder and is separate from the other federal civil rights inquiries.
The summary, which includes 45 findings, identified a slew of poor policing tactics: The use of dogs for crowd control incited fear and anger, tear gas was sometimes used without warning on people who had nowhere to retreat and officers were inconsistent in using force and making arrests, the Justice Department said.
More broadly, though, the report chastised the Ferguson Police Department for failing to manage the community reaction and develop a long-term strategy, as well as for maintaining poor relationships with the black community – a problem that “over time led to devastating effects.”
“The protests were … also a manifestation of the long-standing tension between the Ferguson (Police Department) and the African-American community,” the report summary stated.
The report was prepared by the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services office, a component that works to build trust between police departments and the communities they serve. The office, which also conducts after-action reports on high-profile police responses, said Tuesday it’ll release its final report on the Ferguson response in coming weeks.
St. Louis Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson told the AP that department officials “are interested in the final report to identify what we did well and what we may need to improve upon.
“The department reached out to COPS to inquire about a blueprint for handling similar situations,” Jackson said in an email. “We were told none exist and we were forging new ground. Now, agencies around the country look to our region for input on issues relating to civil unrest.”
Representatives from the other police agencies who were analyzed either declined to comment Tuesday or did not return messages from the AP seeking comment.
Among the problems singled out in the report summary is the “highly elevated tactical response” that police used from the beginning, which set a tone that “limited options for a measured, strategic approach.” It acknowledges that a tactical response was sometimes called for, but an “elevated daytime response was not justified and served to escalate rather than de-escalate the overall situation.”
The report also found that police “underestimated the impact social media had on the incident and the speed at which both facts and rumors were spread and failed to have a social media strategy.”
In repeating “vague and arbitrary” commands for protesters to keep moving, the police wound up violating demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.
“While law enforcement must meet its duty to protect people and property during mass demonstrations and protests,” the Justice Department said, “it can never do so at the expense of upholding the Constitution and First Amendment-protected rights.”
by David Pitt, AP
(Des Moines) (AP) – A record 85.1 million acres of soybeans are in the ground, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday, but it’s not clear whether they’ll all sprout because persistent rain in some Midwestern states has flooded fields and slowed plant development.
The planted soybean acreage is 2 percent more than in 2014, with the largest increases found in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Tennessee. However, just 89 percent of soybean seeds nationally have emerged from the ground – about 5 percentage points behind the five-year average.
Corn and soybean conditions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio have shown deterioration in recent weeks with the heavy rain. And in the soaked states, farmers who won’t get their soybeans fields planted by Wednesday may be forced to use crop insurance to cover the lost production.
Missouri and Illinois have experienced the wettest Junes since the National Weather Service began keeping such records in the late 1800s. More than a third of Missouri’s intended soybean crop has gone unplanted, and Kansas has 14 percent that’s unplanted.
“Any chance I could get between rains, I went ahead and got things planted,” said Jim Boerding, 46, who farms more than 1,600 acres near St. Charles, Missouri, west of St. Louis and near the rain-swollen Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
He started planting his 750 acres of corn later than normal in April, which went smoothly, thanks to a dry spell. When he pivoted to soybeans, the rains rolled in.
“It’s sad watching the rain keep coming down,” he said. “All your hard work getting the planting in, and something like this comes along. We’ll take what we can get.”
Boerding figures as much as half of his corn crop might be negatively impacted by the moisture that has made some of his fields soupy – or looking like miniature ponds. Bouts of hail and winds haven’t helped, snapping many of the young plants.
Even in states like Iowa, where crops have gotten off to a good start, severe weather has taken a toll.
“The strong storms and heavy rains that rolled through Iowa last week have stressed crops, flooded some fields and limited farmers’ ability to get needed work done,” Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said Monday.
With a month of rain, Indiana’s crops have gone from among the best in the nation to among the worst, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said. The USDA said 19 percent of Indiana’s 5.7 million acres of soybeans and 21 percent of its 5.7 million acres of corn in very poor or poor condition.
Hurt estimated Tuesday that production could decline by $475 million in the state.
“The current ratings can still improve during the rest of the growing season, and they can decline even more if weather remains harmful,” he said in a statement.
While planted soybean acres are at record levels, the USDA said planted corn acres in the U.S. are the lowest since 2010 at 88.9 million acres.
Iowa, the nation’s leading corn producer, has 13.7 million acres planted in corn, the same as last year, but its soybean acres grew by 100,000 acres to 10 million.
Illinois leads the nation in soybeans planted with 10.1 million acres in the ground, 300,000 more than last year. It’s second in corn acres with 11.8 million, 100,000 less than last year.
Nebraska also has planted the same amount of corn as last year with 9.3 million acres; soybean acres dropped 200,000 acres to 5.2 million.
Wisconsin and Texas were two of a few states to increase planted corn acreage from 2014, 4.1 million and 2.25 million respectively.