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(Washington) – Gasoline prices have hit the lowest levels since 2009, according to a new survey from the US Energy Information Administration. Amerine Woodyard with the EIA has the report:

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Gas in the local region is at an average of $2.22/gallon. Also, the U.S. average retail price for on-highway diesel fuel fell to its lowest level since January 2011 at $3.42 a gallon on Monday. That’s down 11.6 cents from a week ago.

(Little Rock) (AP) – A panel approved by voters to review and adjust salaries for Arkansas’ top elected officials is holding its first meeting.

The Independent Citizens Commission planned to meet Thursday at the state Capitol to begin its review of the salaries for Arkansas’ constitutional officers, legislators and judges. The seven-member panel was formed as part of a constitutional amendment approved by voters last month that imposed new ethics rules on lawmakers and eased their term limits.

The salaries for those officials had previously been set by the constitution, which allowed the Legislature to make cost-of-living adjustments. Supporters of the panel say it will help update salaries that pale when compared to other states.

The commission’s agenda on Thursday includes selecting a chair and vice chair.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Incoming Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton will be serving on the Banking and Armed Services committees when he takes office next year.

Senate Republicans on Monday announced their committee appointments for next year, when the GOP will hold a majority of seats of the chamber. Cotton, an Army veteran who is currently a congressman representing south Arkansas, defeated two-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor last month.

Cotton was also named to the Joint Economic Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Special Committee on Aging.

Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman was newly appointed to the Rules and Administration Committee. He’ll continue serving on the Agriculture, Appropriations, Environment and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is partnering with the Missouri 4-H Foundation on a year-long survey at many of MDC's unstaffed shooting ranges to get feedback from range users on their experiences. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. (Provided)

The Missouri Department of Conservation is partnering with the Missouri 4-H Foundation on a year-long survey at many of MDC’s unstaffed shooting ranges to get feedback from range users on their experiences. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. (Provided)

(Jefferson City) – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is partnering with the Missouri 4-H Foundation to get public input on their use of the MDC’s unstaffed shooting ranges across the state.

The partnership involves a year-long survey where 4-H staff will ask MDC shooting range users to participate in a brief exit survey about their experiences using the ranges.

Surveys will be conducted at approximately 40 MDC unstaffed shooting ranges from January 1 to December 31, 2015. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary.

Missouri is a national leader in providing free, publicly-owned shooting ranges with MDC maintaining 70 unstaffed and five staffed shooting ranges around the state.

MDC partnered with Missouri 4-H for the survey because of their mutual interest and long-standing involvement in promoting shooting sports across the state.

For more information about MDC shooting ranges, including locations, hours, and driving directions, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6209.

(Mountain Home) – Thanks to several community partners, gates were recently installed at the Donald W. Reynolds Library parking lot entrance, which will prevent vehicles from entering the parking lot during winter weather conditions.

Traffic on the parking lot causes snow and ice to become packed, which in addition to being a safety concern, causes difficulties and delays in clearing the lot. The Library thanks everyone who donated their time and labor to the project.

When it was determined a gate was needed, the Library reached out to people in the community for help as it has always done. When approached with the idea, Rick Hastings, welding instructor at ASU-Mountain Home, was enthusiastic about giving his students an opportunity to practice their skills on a project benefitting the community.

This winter, the gates will be closed at night when there is a high probability of frozen precipitation in the forecast, and they will remain closed until the driveway and parking are cleared. Fines will not be charged for materials that are late because of closing due to inclement weather. For Library information visit www.baxlib.org or the Library’s Facebook page. The Donald W. Reynolds Library Serving Baxter County is located at 300 Library Hill, Mountain Home, AR.

(Willow Springs) – This weekend marks the final presentation of a special Christmas production of the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” in Willow Springs.

Aaron Sydow with the Willow Springs Theater Guild spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the production:

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He also talked about some of the talent behind the production:

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For more information on the show or tickets, you can call 417-256-6814.

(West Plains)- “The Permanence of Fine Printing in the Digital Age” will be the topic of the next Friends of the Garnett Library monthly luncheon meeting on Friday, January 9, on the Missouri State University-West Plains campus.

John Neal Hoover, executive director of the Mercantile Library Association for the St. Louis Mercantile Library, will present the program, which is related to the exhibit “The Art of the Printed Book Through the Centuries” that was on display at the Garnett Library earlier this year.

Hoover is a member of the history faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and teaches classes in early American topical reading and seminars, as well as museum and historical society methods of curatorship. The St. Louis Mercantile Library remains the oldest library west of the Mississippi River in continuous existence.

In addition, Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett will give a brief update on university activities. The luncheon and meeting will take place from 12-1PM at the Garnett Library located at 304 W. Trish Knight St. Parking is available in lots adjacent to the library on its west and south sides.

The cost of the meal is $10, and is payable at the door. Those wishing to eat are asked to make a reservation by calling 417-255-7940 or emailing FriendsofGarnettLibrary@MissouriState.edu by Tuesday, January 6.

(Mountain Home) – Mountain Home resident and author Timothy W. Bryant will be attending a book signing event for his new book Men of Oak this Saturday, December 20, from 10AM-4PM at Orschelin Farm and Home in Mountain Home.

In Bryant’s book the main character William O’Brien is a man raise to respect women folk; a man strong and confident enough to handle any situation that comes his way. Helping the good people of Hardwood build a church was just what William and his friend Thomas were more than willing to do. Moving a few bad men out of the way and helping a couple of ladies, well they were up to the job.

For more information, contact 405-458-5642 or Michelle Whitman at michelle@keymgc.com.

(West Plains) – AmVets Post 98 will be hosting their Annual New Year’s Eve Party December 31, 2014 at 7 PM.

Everyone is invited, especially veterans, family, friends and the general public in support of American veterans. Entertainment includes live music by Southern Justice, karaoke by Charlie Davis, dancing, refreshments, door prizes every 15 minutes, games, and more. There will be a champagne toast at midnight followed by breakfast at 2:15AM New Year’s morning.

The cost to attend this party is $10 per person, and seating is limited.

by Summer Ballentine
Associated Press

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A bill filed this month would require pregnant women to get permission from the father before having an abortion except in cases of incest and what the Missouri Republican who sponsored the legislation called “legitimate rape.”

If passed, state Rep. Rick Brattin’s bill would require women to obtain notarized written permission from the father to terminate a pregnancy. The mandate would be waived for rape and incest. An identical bill by the Harrisonville lawmaker died in committee last session.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin told Mother Jones in a statement that drew criticism from state Democrats. “So you couldn’t just go and say, `Oh yeah, I was raped,’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.”

Brattin’s comments led to comparisons to former Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who said in 2012 that women’s bodies have ways of not becoming pregnant from what he called “legitimate rape.”

Brattin told The Associated Press that his statement to Mother Jones referred to what is defined in state law as rape.

“What I was trying to explain is whatever is considered by statute to be a rape should apply in this,” he said. “I’m not going Akin here and trying to redefine what it is and all that kind of garbage.”

The bill is one of several introduced year after year that deal with abortion, and many never garner enough support to become law.

Still, the Republican-led General Assembly in September overrode a veto by the governor to enact a 72-hour waiting periods for an abortion, which is one of the nation’s longest and has no exceptions for rape and incest.

Sean Nicholson, the executive director of the progressive advocacy group Progress Missouri, said the bill likely is aimed at drumming up support and fundraising.

Nicholson said a woman might be unable to contact the man who impregnated her, and Democratic state Rep. Stacey Newman of St. Louis said Brattin’s bill would put women in abusive relationships at risk.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who defeated Akin for the Senate seat, said the time necessary for criminal prosecution of rape would prevent many women from getting abortions.

“This is just a back-door way to eliminate any rape exception, unless the survivor gets a permission slip from her rapist,” McCaskill said in a written statement. She called the bill “offensive and absurd.”

Brattin said the bill aims to prevent women from using abortions as a form of contraception, and said he was motivated in part by male friends whose partners had abortions without notifying them first.

“If you have a father that wants to be a part of that child’s life,” Brattin said, “he should have that right.”