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(West Plains) – Ozarks Medical Center Behavioral Healthcare now offers new patients quick and easy access to mental health services at the Mountain Grove Medical Complex. Through its Open Access service, new patients can now see a licensed therapist for their first session on a walk-in basis anytime between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Mountain Grove Medical Complex, located at 500 E 19th Street in Mountain Grove.

BHC Director Richard McGee said prior to beginning the Open Access Service, new patients would be scheduled for an initial intake and assessment appointment. With a busy clinic, this process could take several weeks. Now, this process happens immediately on a walk-in basis.

The OMC Behavioral Healthcare team-oriented group of clinicians includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, nurses, counselors and community case workers. Services include individual, couples and family counseling, along with psychiatric medication services. Open Access Service is also available at OMC Behavioral Healthcare in West Plains.

In addition to mental health service, the Mountain Grove Medical Complex offers family medicine, women’s health, lab services, physical therapy, speech language pathology, occupational therapy, and oncology/hematology services.

For information about how to access services contact the Mountain Grove Medical Complex at 417-926-6563.

(Summersville) – Families and children of all ages are invited to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Seuss at 3:30 PM on Monday, March 2 at the Summersville Library.

Treats will be served and games will be played in honor of what would have been Dr. Seuss’ 111th birthday.

Dr. Seuss’s birthday is also Read Across America Day, which calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading.

For more information, call the Summersville Library at 417-932-5261.

by Jim Suhr, AP

(Kansas City) (AP) – A Missouri man used the light from a headlamp he was wearing to see and methodically shoot and kill a pregnant woman and two other people in a mobile home, authorities alleged Tuesday in charging him with four counts of first-degree murder.

Brian D. Williams waived his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the slayings that happened last Friday near Ozark in southwestern Missouri. Williams, who was ordered jailed without bond, is charged in the shooting deaths of 27-year-old James Marsh; Marsh’s 26-year-old girlfriend, Casey Maples; and 40-year-old Christina Winden.

He’s also accused of killing Maples’ unborn child, which a pathologist said was 7 or 8 weeks old.

A public defender assigned to represent Williams declined comment Tuesday. Christian County Prosecutor Amy Fite also would not discuss the case.

Authorities have not revealed a motive for the killings or Williams’ possible connection to the victims, though Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Daniel Nash said in a probable cause statement that Williams once lived at the mobile home and went there the morning of the slayings in a pickup truck he stole the previous day.

Nash said Williams, 25, of southwestern Missouri’s Sparta, knew the home’s occupants were sleeping when he forced his way inside and used the light from his headlamp to go room to room.

The sergeant said Williams later admitted he awakened Marsh and Maples in a bedroom, told them not to move and placed his pistol against Maples’ head before pulling the trigger. But the gun failed to fire.

Williams then shot both Marsh and Maples and kicked in a door to another bedroom, where he fatally shot Winden in the head, Nash said.

“Williams advised that as he went back down the hall, he heard noises coming from the other bedroom, so he went back in the room and found Marsh was still gasping for air,” Nash wrote in the probable cause statement. “Williams advised that he was surprised by this, so he shot him again to make sure that he would die.”

Williams searched the mobile home for wallets and fled in the stolen pickup truck that he later tried to destroy by fire, discarding the gun along the way, according to Nash.

Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle has said a fourth person who lived at the mobile home found the bodies hours later after returning from work.

Nash said in the probable cause statement that Williams remarked that he knew Maples was pregnant and that he “wished that the fourth person had also been at home, as he would have killed him as well.”

In addition to facing four counts each of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, Williams also is charged with tampering with a motor vehicle and theft of a semi-automatic handgun. Authorities say the gun was from the stolen pickup.

He was charged the day after the slayings with possession of meth-making chemicals and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. He also has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

by Andrew DeMillo, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s concerned about possible unintended consequences of legislation that gay rights groups say would sanction discrimination by prohibiting state and local governments from imposing a “substantial burden” on someone’s religious beliefs.

The Republican governor told reporters Tuesday he had reservations about the House-backed “conscience protection” measure that’s pending before a Senate committee, but stopped short of saying whether he opposed the bill.

Hutchinson said he has questions about how the measure would be applied.

Hutchinson on Monday allowed legislation to go into law that bans local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation or gender identity. Opponents of the measure had urged Hutchinson to veto it after he said he was concerned about it infringing on local control.

(Little Rock) (AP) – An Arkansas House committee has rejected a proposal to require public school districts to allow students to express religious viewpoints in coursework, artwork and other assignments.

The House Education Committee on Tuesday voted down the proposal by Republican Rep. Justin Harris of West Fork.

The bill would have also prohibited schools from banning religious clothing or accessories.

Harris says he wants to protect students’ freedom of speech and prevent encroachments against religious expression.

Opponents argued the change is unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Harris said following the vote that he’s working with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to make amendments to the bill and that he will run it again.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri’s local governments and school districts are closer to getting federal funds for storm shelters and disaster repairs.

The Missouri House Tuesday gave first-round approval to a budget bill for this fiscal year to release federal money for local projects in declared disaster areas.

Already-completed local projects totaling about $30 million are awaiting federal funds.

The bill, which needs final approval in the House before going to the Senate, approves the transfer of that money.

The bill also authorizes $8.5 million in general revenue for emergencies- $5.1 million to match federal grants and $3.4 million is for future emergencies such as tornadoes, floods or ice storms.

Missouri has already used much of its previously approved emergency funding, partly because of the response in Ferguson.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the state went too far to collect sales taxes from a Joplin health center, potentially scaling back the Department of Revenue’s authority as it faces scrutiny for taxing businesses.

At issue is a Powerhouse Gym in Joplin, which rented out space to a personal training company.

The health center went to the Administrative Hearing Commission, which settles disputes with other state agencies, after the Department of Revenue tried to collect back sales taxes for leasing the space.

The judges said renting space and not providing other services, such as a private gym membership for those personal trainers, was not enough reason to tax the gym.

It’s unclear how many fitness centers across the state could be affected by the ruling.

The ruling comes as lawmakers have criticized the Department of Revenue for new interpretations of the tax code that subject more businesses to sales taxes, such as fitness centers.

Legislation to exempt health clubs from sales taxes failed last year after it was vetoed Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

This session, lawmakers are trying to require the Revenue Department to notify businesses of any changes in interpretation of the tax code that could apply to them, an effort to protect companies who might not realize they’re suddenly expected to pay those taxes. If the department does not notify businesses, they would not be subject to pay back taxes.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson a bill that would abolish the independent lottery commission and instead place it under Hutchinson’s control.

The state House voted 84-3 Tuesday to endorse shifting responsibility for the games’ operations to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The existing nine-member Lottery Commission would be dissolved and the governor would appoint a games director.

The overhaul is aimed at halting a decline in revenue for the games. Arkansas voters approved the lottery in 2008 to raise money for college scholarships.

Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana says his bill will also save money by eliminating lottery jobs that are already being performed by the finance department.

Hutchinson has previously expressed support for the change.

(Little Rock) (AP) – An Arkansas lawmaker plans to revive an attempt to separate the state’s practice of honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same day by creating a memorial day for Lee.

A similar bill failed twice to advance out of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee after an outpouring of public comment from people who said the change belittles southern heritage.

Democratic Rep. Fredrick Love of Little Rock amended his bill Tuesday to create the memorial day for Lee on the second Friday in January. It would fall near Lee’s Jan. 19 birthday.

Love says the compromise will honor both men.

The committee is scheduled to hear the bill on Wednesday.

by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, AP

(Washington) (AP) – An extensive new survey says the share of Americans without health insurance dropped to its lowest level in seven years in 2014 as President Barack Obama’s overhaul took full effect.

Released Tuesday, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds a drop of 3.5 percentage points in the share of Americans without health insurance, in a full-year comparison between 2013 and 2014.

Research director Dan Witters says about 12.3 million fewer adults were uninsured in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to the third quarter of 2013.

The trend appears likely to continue, since 55 percent of the remaining uninsured say they plan to get coverage rather than face escalating tax penalties.

But first, the Supreme Court must decide if millions of people can continue to receive subsidized coverage.