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From left: USDA rural development specialist Mark Dethrow, USDA area director Mark Hultgren, OzSBI CEO Toney Aid, and OzSBI executive director Heather Fisher. (ORN Photo)

From left: USDA rural development specialist Mark Dethrow, USDA area director Mark Hultgren, OzSBI CEO Toney Aid, and OzSBI executive director Heather Fisher. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – The USDA announced funding for Downtown West Plains to help expand the Ozarks Small Business Incubator on Thursday.

The $30,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant grant was used to help rennovate the final 1,300 square foot back area of the first floor in the Incubator, which will finish the first floor. The grant funding was also used to purchase equipment to supply the three large office spaces.

Incubator CEO Toney Aid told Ozark Radio News that Downtown West Plains is working on another grant to begin work on the second floor of the Incubator.

The Ozarks Small Business Incubator is located on Washington Avenue in West Plains, and serves the areas of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Shannon, Texas, and Wright Counties by offering work and office space, seminars, and guidance for small businesses. More information on the Incubator can be found at www.ozsbi.com.

(West Plains) – A school bus at Glenwood was severely damaged by fire early Thursday morning.

The West Plains Fire Department provided mutual aid to the Howell County Rural Fire Department after a 911 call around 2:18 AM reported a structure fire at the school on Route 17. Firefighters arrived to find a school bus located between three other buses near the school building on fire.

The buses nearest the fire received heat damage, however the fire was contained to the one bus and extinguished.

At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A measure to create a database to monitor the prescription of drugs such as addictive pain killers is moving forward in the Missouri House.

The House gave initial approval to the bill creating a prescription drug database to identify potential abuses by a vote of 105- 46.

Republican Rep. Rebecca Roeber, of Lee’s Summit, says she supports the bill because she believes her sister, who died from an apparent overdose in 2012, would still be alive if the database had been in place earlier.

The database proposal has passed the House before but has faced opposition from a Senate Republican who says he is concerned about potential privacy breaches.

The House must vote again before the bill goes to the Senate.

(Little Rock) (AP) – A proposal to abolish Arkansas’ death penalty is heading to the state Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option in capital murder cases.

Arkansas has 32 inmates on death row but hasn’t executed anyone in nearly a decade due to legal challenges over the state’s lethal injection procedures.

State Sen. David Burnett, a former judge and prosecutor, said he no longer believes the death penalty is a deterrent to violent crime. The bill by the Osceola Democrat faces opposition from some prosecutors who say the death penalty helps while negotiating plea bargains with defendants.

The state hasn’t executed anyone since 2005, when Eric Nance was put to death for the murder and attempted rape of a Malvern teenager.

(West Plains) – A variety of craft beers and specially-prepared foods will be available for tasting once again at this year’s West Plains BrewFest, which will be held this from 5:30-8 PM on Saturday, February 28, at the West Plains Civic Center Exhibit Hall.

This year’s event will feature a “Blues & Brews” theme, and attendees will have the opportunity to sample craft beers from a wide range of local and regional breweries including: Mother’s Brewing and Springfield Brewing of Springfield, Public House Brewing Company of Rolla, and Piney River Brewing of Bucyrus. Great Rivers Distributing will also feature specially-crafted beers from Abita Brewing of Abita Springs, Louisiana; Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis; Goose Island Beer of Chicago, Illinois; Mixx Tail and Sierra Nevada Brewing out of Chica, California. Other selections include Blue Moon & MillerCoors of Golden, Colorado, Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City, Kraftig of St. Louis, Lienenkugel Brewery of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado, Samuel Adams of Boston, and Traveler Beer Company out of Burlington, Vermont.

Wages Brewing out of West Plains will be the demonstrator, offering Home Brew.

Locally prepared food will be courtesy of Sole Café at the Shoe Factory Lofts, Skillets, Roper’s Saloon/Café 37, Ozark Pizza Company, Ozark Café, Johnny’s BBQ, and Almost Famous Grille and BBQ.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the West Plains Council on the Arts’ efforts to promote arts in the West Plains area, as well as fund the Gatewood Family Fine Arts Scholarship, which will be awarded to an area graduating high school senior planning to major in fine arts.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, with the first 250 people receiving a souvenir tasting glass.

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/WestPlainsBrewfest.

(Little Rock) (AP) – A “conscience-protection” proposal in Arkansas that critics call an attempt to sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians has failed before a legislative panel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the measure to ban any local or state laws or regulations that substantially burden religious beliefs unless a “compelling governmental interest” is proven. The measure, approved by the House, faced mounting criticism from businesses, local governments and advocacy groups. The bill’s sponsor said he wasn’t sure whether he’d try again.

Retail giant Wal-Mart had said the proposal sent the wrong message about its home state. Gov. Asa Hutchinson also expressed reservations about it.

Hutchinson allowed a separate measure, which bars local governments from expanding anti-discrimination ordinances to include sexual orientation or gender identity, to become law earlier this week without his signature.

(West Plains) – The city of West Plains has some job openings, according to city clerk Mallory Hawkins:

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More information can be found at www.westplains.net, or you can call city hall at 417-256-7176.

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(Washington) – Congressman Jason Smith was recently presented with the Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Congressman Smith originally introduced the SCRUB Act in 2014, which he says would help fix the broken regulatory process by reducing cumbersome regulations for businesses. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses spend an average of $10,585 per employee each year to comply with federal regulations. For each household in America, the price tag of regulation is more than $15,000.

The award is given to members of Congress who advocate for policies that grow manufacturing and help American manufacturers succeed globally.

The Manufacturing Legislative Excellence award presentation was hosted by NAM member company Leggett & Platt, Inc. in Cape Girardeau, a manufacturing company that has been in Missouri for more than 130 years.

(West Plains) – The Ozarks Small Business Incubator will be holding a workshop on time management in the month of March. Executive director Heather Fisher says that the workshop, which is being put on by the University of Missouri Extension and Penmac, will take place at the Incubator:

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Online QuickBooks classes will also be offered:

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More information on these programs and others can be found at www.ozsbi.com

(Henderson) – The 30th Annual Cystic Fibrosis Buddy Bass Tournament will be held on Saturday, April 18 at Henderson, Arkansas.

Boats will launch at 7 AM, with the first place winner receiving a Bass Cat Vision Boat and Trailer, donated by Bass Cat Boats of Mountain Home, as well as $1500. Prize money will be awarded 2nd through 20th place. 21st to 40th places will receive gift bags of donated items.

The entry fee is $80 per boat. Entry forms can be downloaded at hope4cf.org. You can also call Dan Singletray at 417-256-2131 or Rick Frazier at 417-255-5100 for more information.