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(Yellville) – Arvest Bank will host their 6th annual Shred-A-Thon on Saturday, April 25 from 10:30 AM to 1 PM at the Mountain Home East branch off of Highway 62.

In lieu of paying for shredding services, residents are asked to make donations to the Humane Society of North Central Arkansas.

The Shred-A-Thon is sponsored by Arvest and Shred-It each year, and provides an environmentally friendly way to discard unwanted paper and sensitive documents in a secure manner. Since 2010, more than 24,000 pounds of paper have been shredded and recycled. In that same time, over $5,600 has been raised for the Mountain Home community.

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(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri political consultant says he personally paid for a radio attack ad on the late state Auditor Tom Schweich during Schweich’s bid for governor.

Jeff Roe, the founder of a Kansas City political consulting firm, said in a statement Tuesday he footed the bill for a “House of Cards”-themed ad criticizing Schweich as weak.

Schweich fatally shot himself Feb. 26. He was facing a Republican primary with former state House speaker and U.S. attorney Catherine Hanaway in the governor’s race.

In a statement, Roe lamented Schweich’s death. Police have said it’s unclear why Schweich shot himself.

Roe paid for the ad through a limited liability company he solely owns.

The committee that produced the ad had shared the same treasurer as Hanaway’s campaign. Hanaway has said she didn’t know about the ad before it aired.

by Marie French, AP



(Jefferson City) (AP) – A liberal advocacy group sued the Missouri Senate on Wednesday, asserting that restrictions on filming some Senate committee meetings are in violation of the state’s open-meetings law.

Progress Missouri’s lawsuit alleges that decisions by some Senate committee chairmen to prohibit filming by the group violate the state’s Sunshine Law and infringes on the group’s freedom of speech and association. Executive director Sean Nicholson said he’s tried to work out a solution for months.

“Some of these senators think the law doesn’t apply to them,” Nicholson said.

Missouri’s Sunshine Law allows public bodies to establish guidelines on recording to minimize disruption, but the lawsuit says Progress Missouri’s filming wouldn’t have been disruptive. Senate rules state that cameras may be allowed with the permission of the committee chairman “as long as they do not prove disruptive to the decorum of the committee.”

The lawsuit says some senators’ policy allowing only members of a Capitol media association to film hearings violates freedom of association by essentially requiring Progress Missouri to join the group.

Senate Majority Caucus spokeswoman Lauren Hieger said the Senate would not comment on pending legal action, but noted that the Senate has made improvements in technology to set up audio feeds in overflow rooms for Senate hearings.

“We just follow the same policy that we follow on the Senate floor,” said Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, declining to comment further on the lawsuit. Kehoe is one of the chairmen named in the lawsuit, along with Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, and Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, and the Senate itself.

Media outlets seeking to film Senate proceedings typically request permission in advance, and Senate rules state that making live or taped recordings of the full Senate is subject to approval from the Senate president pro tem and the majority and minority floor leaders.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Senate is sending back to the House a measure that supporters say will address problems with the state’s flawed student transfer law.

The Senate on Wednesday approved the measure 26-3. It now returns to the House and differences between the two versions must be worked out.

Missouri law requires failing school districts to pay tuition for students to attend nearby schools in better-performing districts. That’s resulted in a financial hardship for some districts that struggle to pay that tuition.

This year’s proposal would first have students move to better-performing schools within the district, with the goal of keeping them in their home districts.

An earlier proposal stalled because of a $200 million price tag. Legislative researchers estimate the new version would cost about $23 million.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Finance reports show Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster has more than $3 million on hand to spend for his campaign for Missouri governor in 2016.

Records filed Wednesday show that’s more than twice the amount of former House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, the front-runner among a number of Republican candidates declared or debating a run.

Hanaway had roughly $1.2 million on hand as of March 31.

Koster is the only Democrat running. That gives him an advantage over Republicans, who must vie for donations among GOP supporters.

Hanaway’s fundraising between January and April also slowed after she stopped campaigning following the death of her Republican gubernatorial opponent, Auditor Tom Schweich.

Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, another Republican exploring entering the race, trails Hanaway with about $450,000 on hand.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Minors convicted of first-degree murder could receive a less-severe punishment than the current requirement of life in prison under legislation advanced Wednesday in the Missouri Senate.

The bill aims to address flaws with the state’s sentencing requirements for minors found guilty of the crime, which the state Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional.

First-degree murder defendants 11 and younger must be tried in juvenile court, but minors between 12 and 17 are currently eligible to be tried as adults. If they’re convicted of the crime in adult court, they would be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Only adults 18 and older can face the death penalty in Missouri.

But the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled mandatory life sentences for minors are unconstitutional. That’s left Missouri with no valid laws guiding punishments for youths convicted of murder, said Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, the bill’s sponsor.

Dixon’s proposed solution would give jurors the option of sentencing 16-18 year olds to between 50 years in prison without parole or life without parole. Those under 16 years old would face at least 35 years.

No senators spoke against the bill during floor debate Wednesday, but opponents have criticized a 50-year sentence as almost guaranteeing life behind bars for some youths.

A bill sponsored by Minority Leader Sen. Joe Keaveny that would give options for even lighter sentences – 14-30 for those between 16 and 17 and 12-30 for those under 16 at the time of the crime – has not yet come to a vote in committee.

Missouri isn’t the only state crafting new guidelines for minors convicted of first-degree murder following the Supreme Court ruling. California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing judges to reduce sentences to 25 years to life if an inmate shows remorse and is working toward rehabilitation. In Iowa, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad commuted all juvenile life sentences to 60 years.

A second full vote is needed on Dixon’s bill before it can move to the House for debate.

(Summersville) – Two Birch Tree residents are dead after a one-vehicle accident near Summersville on Tuesday.

72-year-old Donald and 65-year-old Katherine Lockhart were pronounced dead by Texas County coroner Tom Whittaker just after 1 PM. A passenger in the vehicle, 72-year-old Carol Casey of Summersville, suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains by ambulance.

The accident happened around noon three miles south of Summersville on Highway 17, when the pick-up truck driven by Donald Lockhart ran off-road and struck a culvert. The vehicle then returned to the roadway, ran off-road, overcorrected, and overturned.

The deaths mark the second and third fatalities for Troop G of the Highway Patrol for this year, compared to three at this time last year.

(West Plains) – West Plains resident and R-7 School Superintendent Dr. John Mulford will receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award during Missouri State University Alumni Association’s annual spring picnic for alumni and friends at 6 PM Thursday, May 7, at the West Plains Civic Center exhibit hall.

The award recognizes a Missouri State University alumnus who has made extraordinary achievements in his or her personal and professional endeavors and has shown notable success in his/her profession or business, loyalty to the university and outstanding contributions to society.

A 1994 graduate of West Plains High School, Mulford received his Associate of Arts in General Studies degree from Missouri State-West Plains in 1997; his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree from Missouri State University-Springfield in 2002; his Master’s in Education, Secondary Administration from William Woods University in 2005; his Specialist’s in Administration and Educational Leadership from St. Louis University in 2008; and his Doctorate in Administration and Educational Leadership from St. Louis University in 2009.

Mulford began his career as an administrator and teacher at Heritage Christian School in West Plains. After four years with the school, he was hired as a math teacher at West Plains Middle School, a position he held for one year until he was moved to West Plains High School, where he tought math for three years. He also has served as assistant principal at West Plains Middle School for two years, as West Plains High School principal for one year, and as West Plains R-7 assistant superintendent for four years before becoming West Plains superintendent two years ago.

In his administrative roles, he helped manage a middle school with 550 students while helping implement initiatives that improved curriculum, instruction, administration, school climate and academic achievement. As high school principal, he served as the instructional leader for roughly 1,200 students. In addition, while serving as West Plains High School principal, the school was recognized as one of the Best High Schools in America by US News & World Report and one of the Best Schools in Southwest Missouri by 417 Magazine.

As assistant superintendent, he managed the transportation, food service, buildings and grounds, and human resources for the largest school district in the seven-county area. As superintendent, he serves as the educational leader and CEO of a district with an estimated 2,600 students, 450 employees and 13 campuses.

During his tenure in West Plains, Mulford has earned the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Distinction in Performance Award each year during his administrative tenure.

In addition to his day-to-day duties as R-7 superintendent, Mulford also actively serves and participates in several educational organizations, including the Ozark Educational Research Initiative, District Administration Leadership Institute, Missouri Association of School Administrators, Missouri Association of School Business Officials, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Missouri School Boards Association. He also is a graduate of the national SUPES Academy for educational leaders in Dallas, Texas.

Mulford is also a member of the West Plains Rotary Club; a board member of Optimists International; a founding board member of the Boys & Girls Club of West Plains; a coach for local children’s sports teams; an Ambassador with the West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce; a Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Mentor; and a deacon at Central Calvary Baptist Church.

The annual picnic is free and open to all Missouri State University alumni and friends; however, reservations should be made prior to the event. For more information or to make reservations, call the Missouri State-West Plains development office at 417-255-7240.

(West Plains) – A West Plains resident suffered moderate injuries Tuesday night after an ATV accident in Howell County.

A report from the Highway Patrol states the accident happened at 8:15 PM on private property off of Highway BB north of West Plains, when the ATV operated by 59-year-old Robert Bush tipped backward on a steep embankment, throwing Bush from the vehicle.

Bush was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains.

(West Plains) – Staff from the office of Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder will conduct a listening post at the West Plains Library on Saturday, April 18.

The listening session, which is scheduled from 4-4:30 PM, is an opportunity for residents to meet with the Lieutenant Governor’s staff and share their opinions about issues facing their community and the state.

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