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(West Plains) – Area residents can get their first look at the 2015 Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team in action at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 15, during the annual Grizzly Alumni Volleyball Match at the West Plains Civic Center arena.

The contest, which is being held in conjunction with the university’s annual Welcome Week activities, will be free and will pit the 2015 Grizzlies against players from previous squads.

“This is always a fun event for us and our fans,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said.  “It’s a chance to see this year’s team for the first time and some familiar faces from the past.”

The alumni will take on a Grizzly team that returns seven players from last year’s squad – sophomores Susannah Kelley, a 5-foot, 8-inch setter from Jonesboro, Arkansas; Zori Curry, a 6-foot, 2-inch middle attacker from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Pulotu Manoa, a 5-foot, 11-inch outside hitter from Concord, California; Gabby Edmondson, a 5-foot, 10-inch outside hitter from Christchurch, New Zealand; Ashley Bishton, a 6-foot, 2-inch middle/right side attacker from Liberty, Missouri; Breanna Taylor, a 6-foot outside hitter from Houston, Texas; and Guro Froberg, a 5-foot, 11-inch outside hitter from Askim, Norway.

Joining the returners will be transfer freshmen Stephanie Phillips, a 6-foot, 2-inch outside/right side attacker from Thornlands, Australia, and Lara Temel, a 6-foot, 1-inch middle/right side attacker from Istanbul, Turkey; along with freshmen Autumn Reese, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist from Ozark, Missouri; Alyssa Young, a 5-foot, 10-inch outside/right side attacker from Billings, Missouri; Maja Petronijevic, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist from Belgrade, Serbia; Abigail Bergman, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist from Perryville, Missouri; and Blanca Izquierdo, a 5-foot, 9-inch setter from Madrid, Spain.

For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, visit its website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/vb/.

(West Plains) – The West Plains Soccer Association is now accepting Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 soccer registrations for children ages 3 to 14.

Association officials say the cost is only $50 per child, which includes a jersey, 8 to 10 games in fall 2015 season and 8 to 10 games in the spring 2016 season.

West Plains Soccer Association Board Members will be at the West Plains Civic Center on August 3, 5, 18, and 20 from 5:30-7 PM. Parents are asked to bring payment and a copy of their child’s birth certificate. You may also register at www.westplainssoccer.com.

The deadline to register is Friday, August 21, and the fall season starts Saturday, September 12.

(West Plains) – The Martha Vance Samaritan Outreach Center is giving away clothing now through Sunday.

The homeless shelter, at 715 Missouri Ave. in West Plains, will be giving away clothing each day from 10 AM to 6 PM at the center’s parking lot. Clothing sizes range from children to adults. Center director Penney Alverson says clothing is being added daily, and anyone in need of clothing is welcome to visit the center and take any clothing they need.

The Martha Vance Samaritan Outreach Center is a 36-bed homeless shelter in West Plains, and serves the homeless in Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Shannon, Douglas, Texas and Wright Counties. The shelter seeks to provide transitional housing and a viable means of support to people who are defined as homeless, along with assistance in reentering society in a self-sufficient manner.

For more information on the shelter of the clothing giveaway, call 417-257-7792.

(Jefferson City) – Missouri Senate President Pro-Tem Tom Dempsey says he is resigning from office.

His retirement will go into effect August 7. The Republican from St. Charles first was elected to the Missouri House in 2000, and has served in the Missouri Senate since 2007.

Dempsey says he is leaving the Missouri Senate to return to the private sector and spend more time with his family

Dempsey is the fifth Missouri lawmaker to resign in the past year, and the third in the past two months, after Democratic Sen. Paul LeVota said last week that he would resign while denying allegations he sexually harassed interns. In May, Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned after it was revealed that he had exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with an intern.

Dempsey’s remarks are below:

“Twenty-four years ago, in front of an altar and in the presence of family and friends, I pledged to a beautiful young lady that I would love and be true to her all the days of my life. Though I have never managed to be all that she deserves, I have taken very seriously my responsibility to provide for her and the three wonderful children with whom we have been blessed.

For the past 17 years, my family has allowed me to serve the people of St. Charles County in public office, first on the City Council, then in the Missouri House of Representatives, and now in the Missouri Senate. While holding this public trust has been one of the highest points of my life, it has come at a cost. It has been said that time is like money: it can only be spent once. I have spent a lot of it away from those I love.

When I first packed my suitcase and headed off for Jefferson City in the winter of 2001, I said goodbye to two little girls ages eight and six. Our son Jack was a baby and doesn’t remember a time when I wasn’t away much of the winter and spring, serving in the legislature.

Today, Meaghan is a college graduate. I recently had the privilege of driving with her on a cross-country trip to California where she is spreading her wings and starting a new life as an independent, young adult. Abby isn’t far behind. She is getting ready to start her junior year at the University of Missouri. Jack is a high school sophomore, learning to drive, and has become a fine young man.

As I look in the mirror and count an ever increasing number of gray hairs, I have had to come to grips with the reality that the next year and a half is precious. Once our kids have come and gone, Molly and I will be ‘empty nesters’ with a house full of memories and pictures.

In addition to the kids growing up, much has changed since my last election. Two years ago, I said ‘goodbye’ to my mother who left us suddenly and far too soon. Her passing left a void and has led me to reassess my priorities. Last December, we closed down a part of our family business where Molly and I had worked for the past 24 years. As I drive by the location where the building once stood, the family banquet center known as ‘The Columns’ is now a memory, the building demolished to be replaced by a new outpatient health center.

These events have helped me come to the conclusion that it is time for me to return to private life. It has been an honor to be chosen to represent my community in Jefferson City, and a privilege to serve my colleagues in the House and Senate as an elected leader. In return, I have tried to steer our state in a direction they would support.

As I look over the past 15 years in the Legislature, we have made some great strides forward for our state. It is difficult to prioritize these accomplishments, but some that stand out include initiatives to make our state a better place to live, raise a family, and operate a business.

For example, we cut taxes twice, and after repeated attempts we fixed an insolvent Second Injury Fund, providing stability to those who create jobs while giving relief to thousands of workers who were injured on the job. We also improved Missouri’s economic landscape by reforming workers compensation, and we protected job creators from those who abuse the unemployment system by redefining workplace ‘misconduct’. We also passed the first reform to Missouri’s prevailing wage laws in 40 years and restored balance to a healthcare tort system where outrageous awards risked driving physicians out of Missouri or into retirement.

We’ve developed new tools to lure amateur sporting events and the tourism those events generate, to attract data center development, and in an eight-day special session, enticed Boeing as they sought to build a new generation of airliners. The latter has allowed St. Louis to expand its role beyond defense work into the commercial side of Boeing’s manufacturing. Further, we increased funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation which has fostered job and investment growth for small, high tech companies.

In order to capitalize on our geographic advantage, we worked tirelessly to promote economic development on the widest possible spectrum with a proposal we sent to voters to improve Missouri’s highway infrastructure, including the rebuilding and expansion of I-70. Though the proposal failed, it has led to broader discussion of our transportation challenges and possible solutions. We also passed a landmark bonding bill to allow for an array of much needed infrastructure improvements to facilities across our state.

To preserve the sanctity of human life in Missouri, we passed legislation that protects the weakest and most vulnerable among us by requiring a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion. We owe it to women who find themselves in desperate circumstances to give them the benefit of time, counsel and funding for abortion alternatives (something we also have funded in record amounts).

We passed legislation in 2015 to revamp our welfare system for the first time in 20 years by promoting work and self-reliance.

Twice, with large bipartisan Senate votes, we passed legislation to give kids in failing schools an opportunity to transfer to a better educational environment while taking steps to reverse the decades of decline in unaccredited districts. Sadly, both bills were vetoed. However, we were successful in promoting innovative charter schools, demanding greater accountability in those schools, and allowing failing schools to be placed under outside governance more readily.

We moved forward in a bipartisan way to pass a revision to Missouri’s criminal code – something that had not happened in decades. Recently, we enacted municipal court reform which will take the perverse profit motive out of running local courts and return them to their intended purpose, the administration of justice.

Of course, there is always more that can be done to protect the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of our great state, but I look back with pride on how far we’ve come. I also recognize that others are waiting in the wings to pick up the torch and carry on the work we have begun.

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that my time in the legislature has come to an end. I have been honored to serve. I have been blessed in more ways than I can count, and I leave owing a great debt of gratitude to my neighbors who have allowed me to serve. However, my family is my highest priority, and in the proud tradition of the ‘citizen legislator’ the framers of our Republic envisioned, I now return to private life.”

Senate Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles

(Washington) – Congressman Jason Smith has introduced a bill to help make college more affordable for students at Work Colleges.

The bipartisan bill, H.R. 3409, which was introduced Wednesday, would allow students to earn tax-free, work-based scholarships at Work Colleges across the country.

Work colleges offer an alternative by allowing students to achieve a four-year degree with little to no student loan debt in exchange for participation in a work-learning program. Currently, compensation students earn at Work Colleges is taxed as income, rather than a tax-free scholarship. Congressman Smith’s bill would clarify the tax treatment of these scholarships and restore the specific tax protection that was erroneously eliminated by Congress in 1986.

“It only makes sense that we encourage the hard work of responsible students,” said Congressman Jason Smith, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles tax issues. “Work Colleges, including College of the Ozarks in southern Missouri, start students on the right track. This bill makes it easier for those students to earn the scholarships they need to pay for college.”

America’s seven Work Colleges are unique, four-year liberal arts institutions, with a majority of them being based in Christian education. Typical entry level jobs in the program include landscaping and administration, and students typically work about eight to 15 hours per week in addition to their education and service requirements.

The seven American Work Colleges are Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky; Berea College in Berea, Kentucky; Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois; College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri; Ecclesia College in Springdale, Arkansas; Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont; and Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.

A still from the surveillance video. (West Plains Police)

A still from the surveillance video. (West Plains Police)

(West Plains) – The West Plains Police Department is seeking the public’s help in finding a suspect who broke into the Verizon Wireless store on Thursday.

Police released surveillance images and video of the incident on Thursday afternoon. Police say the burglary took place in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 30, and that a number of items were taken, including cell phones and tablets.

If you have any information please call 417-256-2244 or email crimetips@westplains.net.

(Ripley County) – A 43-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder after a man was beaten to death in Ripley County.

KFVS reports that Johnny Stanley was arrested after the victim’s wife called the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office early Wednesday morning, saying that she woke up to him hitting her husband, 72-year-old Ron Yarber, in the head and face. Police arrived and found Yarber unconscious and arrested Stanley.

Yarber was taken to an area hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

According to court documents, Yarber’s wife told police that Stanley had been living with her and her husband for several months, and that after Yarber had fallen to the floor, Stanley allegedly kicked him, and declared “I’ve killed him”.

Online court documents state that Stanley was arrested and taken to the jail in Doniphan, where he was held on $500,000 cash-only bond. A case review has been scheduled for August 12.

(West Plains) – The Howell County Sheriff’s Office has arrested fewer people on drug-related offenses in 2015.

Information provided by the department to Ozark Radio News shows that the Howell County Sheriff’s Office had a total of 330 drug-related arrests in the first six months of 2014, compared to 213 arrests in the first six months of 2015.

Drug abuse arrests dropped from 107 to 71; sale and manufacturing arrests dropped from 27 to 15; synthetic drug arrests dropped from 54 to 29; possession charges dropped from 80 to 56; marijuana charges dropped from 33 to 15; and non-narcotic drug arrests dropped from 27 to 18.

The only statistic to increase in 2015 was arrests on opium, cocaine and their derivatives, which went up from 2 in 2014 to 9 in 2015.

(West Plains) – A West Plains resident suffered moderate injuries Thursday afternoon after the ATV she was driving overturned.

A Highway Patrol report states that 58-year-old Mary Ward was performing yard work and using an ATV to get around the property when a tool she was using became stuck against the thumb throttle, causing the vehicle to accelerate up a woodpile and overturn.

Ward was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains by South Howell County EMS.

The accident happened at 4:30 PM on private property off of Route 17, about six miles south of West Plains.

(Thomasville) – An Alton resident suffered minor injuries Thursday evening after a one-vehicle accident near Thomasville.

The accident happened just after 6:30 PM on Highway 160, about 4 miles east of Thomasville, when the eastbound vehicle driven by 68-year-old Edward Lucas ran off-road and hit a tree.

Lucas was taken from the scene of the accident to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains.