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(West Plains) – The 4-H and FFA steer weigh-in for the 2015 Heart of the Ozarks Fair in West Plains will be held on Saturday, February 14 at the Heart of the Ozarks Fairgrounds in West Plains.

The weign-in will begin at 9 AM and end at 11 AM. All steers will be weighed, tattooed, and ear tagged at this time. Exhibitors wanting to enter steers in the Missouri State Fair will need to attend this weigh-in to have their steers’ nose printed.

In order for steers to qualify for the Heart of the Ozarks Fair they need to weigh at least 450 lbs. and no more than 850 lbs. at the weigh-in. All calves must be castrated prior to the weigh-in as there will not be a vet on the premises during the weigh-in. Youth wanting to weigh-in livestock for the Heart of the Ozarks Fair must be a member in good standing with the Missouri 4-H club program or a paid member in good standing with a local FFA Chapter.

Each exhibitor must pay $10 at weigh-in to support the sale dinner at the fair.

For more information contact the University of Missouri Extension Center at 417-256-2391.

(West Plains) – Area residents interested in attending college can learn more about financial aid options available to them at a workshop set for 6 PM Monday, February 9, at Willow Springs High School.

The workshop is being hosted by Missouri State University-West Plains.

A representative from the college will be on hand to provide information to students and parents regarding federal and state resources available to help students finance their post-secondary education. This includes information about federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant, campus-based work-study programs, Stafford student loans and PLUS loans for parents, as well as state programs such as the Access Missouri grant, Bright Flight Scholarship and the A+ Program.

In addition, those attending will receive information about the financial aid application process, including instructions for filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

All of the information provided will be useful for students planning to attend any post-secondary institution that participates in the federal Title IV programs, not just Missouri State-West Plains.

For more information about the workshop, contact the Missouri State-West Plains financial aid office at 417-255-7243 or contact Willow Springs High School Counselor Amanda Munsan at 417-469-2114, ext. 307.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Assistance for Missouri’s dairy farmers appears to be one of the first bills the Legislature will send to Gov. Jay Nixon.

The House gave initial approval to the dairy farm bill Wednesday and the Senate heard the bill Thursday.

Supporters say the bill is needed to keep Missouri’s milk providers in business.

The measure provides a subsidy to help dairy farmers pay for insurance, a scholarship for students studying dairy farming and funds for research on the industry.

Opponents say the state government should not interfere with the free market or try to fix an industry regulated at the federal level.

Funds for the program would have to be approved separately and would come from existing sales tax on dairy products.

(West Plains) – A prescribed fire workshop will be held in February at the MDC regional office in West Plains.

Marcus Asher, private land conservationist with the MDC, spoke with Ozark Radio News and told more:

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He also told us some of the topics that will be covered at the workshop:

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Again, that number to RSVP is 417-256-7161.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has issued a consumer alert warning residents to watch out for so-called “rapid” refund products as tax season gears up.

Rutledge issued the alert Wednesday, saying millions of American taxpayers obtain these products – such as refund anticipation checks or bonus deposit checks – every year.

Her office says refund anticipation checks are essentially high-interest loans which must be repaid by an actual tax return and in many cases are deducted directly from refund proceeds.

With those products, she says consumers are essentially borrowing and paying interest on their own money – and sometimes the refund is less than the loan amount that needs to be repaid.

For more information, visit www.irs.gov or www.ArkansasAG.gov.

The CenterLines. (provided)

The CenterLines. (provided)

(Summersville) – The Summersville Senior Center’s CenterLines line dance group will celebrate the first year anniversary of the group’s existence for supper at Acleda’s Korner Kitchen in Raymondville on Friday, January 30 at 5 PM.

Everyone who has participated in the weekly line dance workouts during the past year is invited to attend.

The group has began dancing publicly for festivals and benefits and welcomes new members. It has donated more than $400 to the Summersville Senior Center during the past year. The free line dance workout is held from 1-2 PM each Friday at the Summersville Senior Center. Contact Kathie Cox at 417-932-4866 for more information.

(Melbourne) – Ozarka College in Mountain View, AR will host an Introduction to Computers course to be offered through Continuing Education beginning in March.

The four-week course, being taught by Frances Bullard, will cover basic computer concepts, Microsoft Windows, Internet search and navigation, e-mail basics, and sending attachments. The course runs from March 6-27 and meets on Fridays, from 9 AM to 12 PM.

The tuition is just $25 per student and $20 for people ages 60 and over. Seating is limited and registration is required. Please contact Lindsay Wilson-Galloway, Director of Ozarka College Off-Campus Operations in Mountain View, AR at 870-269-5600.

by Dina Cappiello, AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, listens as Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, talks with reporters after winning a critical procedural vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. The Republican-controlled Senate moved toward eventual passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, getting enough votes to overcome a filibuster, 62-35, still five votes short of a veto-proof majority. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, listens as Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, talks with reporters after winning a critical procedural vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. The Republican-controlled Senate moved toward eventual passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, getting enough votes to overcome a filibuster, 62-35, still five votes short of a veto-proof majority. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Washington) (AP) – The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment.

The 62-36 vote advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, and marked the first time the Senate passed a bill authorizing the pipeline, despite numerous attempts to force President Barack Obama’s hand on the issue. Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans to back the measure.

This bill “is an important accomplishment for the country,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “We are hoping the president upon reflection will agree to sign on to a bill that the State Department said could create up to 42,000 jobs and the State Department said creates little to no impact on the environment.”

Still the vote was short of the threshold needed to override a veto, and the legislation still must be reconciled with the version the House passed.

“We hope President Obama will now drop his threat to veto this common-sense bill that would strengthen our energy security and create thousands and thousands of new, good-paying American jobs,” said House Speaker John Boehner.

Most Democrats framed the bill as gift to a foreign oil company that would have little benefit for the American people, because much of the oil would be exported. They tried and failed to get amendments on the bill to construct the pipeline with U.S. steel, ban exports of the oil and the products refined from it, and protect water resources.

The Senate agreed to add an energy efficiency measure, and went on the record saying climate change was not a hoax and the oil sands should be subject to a tax that helps pay for oil spill cleanups. Oil sands are currently exempt.

“This bill is a disgrace,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Senate environment committee. “We tried on our side to make this a better bill and they turned us away.”

TransCanada Corp., the pipeline’s developer, disputed the export argument Thursday, saying it didn’t make sense.

“Those who argue this pipeline is for export are not being factual,” said Russ Girling, president and chief executive officer of TransCanada. “It’s time to approve Keystone XL so we can transport Canadian and American oil to fuel the everyday lives of the American people.”

First proposed in 2008, the $8 billion pipeline project has been beset by delays in Nebraska over its route and at the White House, where the president has resisted prior efforts by Congress to force him to make a decision. In 2012, Obama rejected the project after Congress attached a measure to a payroll tax cut extension that gave him a deadline to make a decision. The pipeline’s developer, TransCanada Corp., then reapplied.

The 1,179-mile pipeline is proposed to go from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf coast.

Obama has said he will not be forced to make a decision on the pipeline, which requires presidential approval because it crosses an international border, until the review process concludes. Federal agencies’ comments on whether the project is in the national interest are due Monday.

Environmental groups have called on Obama to reject the project outright, saying it would make it easier to tap a dirty source of energy that would exacerbate global warming. The State Department’s analysis, assuming higher oil prices, found that shipping it by pipelines to rail or tankers would be worse for the planet. It also concluded that the project, after construction, would create only 35 permanent jobs, a figure Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., compared to a fried chicken franchise.

“The facts are clear: the Keystone XL pipeline will only create 35 permanent jobs while dumping millions of tons of carbon pollution into the air and threatening waterways and communities across the Midwest,” said Tom Steyer, the investor and philanthropist who founded the NextGen Climate political action committee.

Supporters say the pipeline is a critical piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs during construction and boost energy security by importing oil from a friendly neighbor.

“We urge the president to make the right decision and approve KXL because it is in this nation’s best interest,” said Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. “The fact is that if all other infrastructure projects are delayed like Keystone XL, we are years away from approving anything that could create jobs and enhance our energy security.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., a consistent supporter of the pipeline, and one of 9 Democrats to back the bill, said the pipeline had a “distorted position in the energy debate.”

“Keystone is first and foremost is an energy infrastructure project,” Heitkamp said in a call with reporters Thursday. “It has become something bigger than what it is.”

OMC President and CEO Tom Keller speaking at the unveiling of the "Nurturing Hope" campaign Thursday. (ORN)

OMC President and CEO Tom Keller speaking at the unveiling of the “Nurturing Hope” campaign Thursday. (ORN)

(West Plains) – Ozarks Medical Center and the OMC Foundation on Thursday unveiled a new fundraising initiative called “Nurturing Hope”, which looks to expand the OMC Cancer Treatment Center, located in the Shaw Medical Building in West Plains.

OMC Foundation Director Ward Franz spoke with Ozark Radio News and said that the current center has run out of space:

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The $2.4 million project will also include an expanded and upgraded chemotherapy suite:

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The expanded center will also house the 4D Oncology CT device, a cutting edge device that treats tumors in unique ways:

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OMC Foundation Director Ward Franz speaking during the Thursday event. (ORN)

OMC Foundation Director Ward Franz speaking during the Thursday event. (ORN)

The OMC Foundation is seeking $1.2 million to finish the project, with the hospital committing $1 million to the project. Franz says that the fundraiser will be a huge undertaking that will have long-term consequences for West Plains and the surrounding area:

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Franz added that the Foundation is now accepting donations for the expansion, and naming opportunities are available. For more information call the OMC Foundation at 417-853-5200, or visit the OMC Foundation in the Parkway Center in West Plains.

A rendering of the proposed expansion to the OMC Cancer Treatment Center. (Provided)

A rendering of the proposed expansion to the OMC Cancer Treatment Center. (Provided)

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas House has approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to cut income taxes for the middle class by $102 million a year and repeal part of a 2013 capital gains tax break.

By a 95-2 vote, the House approved the proposal to cut income taxes by 1 percent for those making between $21,000 and $75,000 a year. The proposal heads back to the Senate for a final vote.

Hutchinson, a Republican who was sworn in earlier this month, campaigned on the tax cut proposal and called it his priority this session. The measure calls for repealing a portion of a tax cut on capital gains lawmakers approved two years ago.

A House panel this week scaled back the bill, which initially called for a full repeal of the tax break.