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Celebrating Labor Day

For many Americans, Labor Day means the end of summer and a three-day weekend. Family and friends across the country gather for backyard barbeques. Retailers offer deep discounts, and the fall campaign season kicks into high gear. While this may be the Labor Day we have come to recognize, the official “workingmen’s holiday” has an interesting history dating back to the 1880s.

Although there is some debate as to who is the father of Labor Day, most historians trace the holiday’s beginning back to the parade of unions and a massive picnic that took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882. Earlier that year, a proposal was put forth at a Central Labor Union meeting that all workers should come together in September for a massive labor festival. That August, the Central Labor Union passed a resolution stating “that the 5th of September be proclaimed a general holiday for the workingmen in this city.”

Despite reportedly selling 20,000 tickets to the event, the parade got off to a slow and uncertain start. With just a few marchers and no band, onlookers began suggesting the parade’s Grand Marshall, William McCabe, abandon the idea. Not to be discouraged, McCabe and a small group of workers began marching even as the crowds jeered at them. Fortunately, they did not have to wait long before 200 marchers from the Jewelers Union of Newark Two joined in, and they even had a band.

By the time the parade reached its termination point at Reservoir Park that day, it is said that somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 men and women had marched. The celebration continued until 9 p.m. that evening, with nearly 25,000 union members and their families enjoying picnics, speeches, dancing and fireworks. Calling it a true “day of the people,” newspapers declared the celebration a huge success.

From that day on, the idea of formally honoring our workforce spread quickly throughout the country. On June 28, 1894 the 53rd Congress passed a bill officially making Labor Day a legal holiday to take place each year on the first Monday in September.

In the spirit of Labor Days past, and as we look to the future, I encourage you to think about how far our workforce has come since that September day in 1882. Think about the technology that has made our jobs easier and safer. Think about the rights we enjoy and all the men and women who fought for those rights.

Work is an important part of lives. It is the means by which we provide for ourselves and our families. Our work can also be a source of validation and fulfillment, and it allows us to continue acquiring knowledge and learning new skills long after we have left the classroom. I would sincerely like to thank everyone for the work they have contributed, and I hope you had a very enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol, however during interim I may be in district. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

(Koshkonong) – Preparations are underway for the annual Koshkonong Heritage Day festival, which will be held Saturday, September 6, from 10:30 AM to 4 PM at the city park in downtown Koshkonong.

Festival organizers have announced an exciting roster of entertainment this year kicking off with the legendary Howell Family Singers with their gospel show, Repertory Theater of the Ozarks (RTO) will perform songs from their country shows including “Salute to the Grand Ole Opry” and “Women of Country and a Couple of Guys” — classic country with a little classic rock thrown in. This year the festival will again feature vendors and a variety of old time games for adults and children. There will be an elderberry farm and a honey farm, and there will be food and drinks available. Other events include an antique car show, archery and tomahawk throwing contests, and hourly seminars on trapping. The ever popular Chicken Chase for kids will be back this year, and a skillet throwing contest will also be held.

Festival organizers say they are still looking for vendors. Anyone interested in being in the show can call 417-280-6304. There is no charge to have a booth. Vendors must register prior to setting up.

(Forsyth) – The Taney County Partnership (TCP) has announced that it has hired Jennifer Langford, MBA/MIS, as the new Marketing and Programs Director.

Langford relocated to the Branson Tri-Lakes region from Nashville, Tennessee where she led and managed marketing for a variety of corporations, SMBs, and government interests for more than 20 years. Most recently, Langford managed North American marketing for Square D and Schneider Electric’s data center industry segment where she worked with data center site selectors, specifiers, consultants, and contractors on new construction and data center facility renovation projects in excess of 100,000 square feet.

Langford earned an MBA in International Marketing along with a Master’s of Information Services at University of Phoenix in Nashville, and has earned national recognition and awards in advertising, content, design, and readership during her career. Her experience includes branding, promotions, media relations, web and digital media production, trade shows, social media, demand creation, and content development for manufacturing, distribution, entertainment, healthcare, and government entities.

The TCP seeks the involvement of area businesses and individuals to lead the development initiatives of the communities it serves. For more information, please visit www.taneycountypartnership.com.

(Cabool) – A resident of Mountain Grove suffered moderate injuries Friday afternoon after the vehicle he was driving ran off-road and struck a culvert.

The accident happened just before 2 PM on Highway 63, about four miles north of Cabool.

29-year-old Adam Bashor was taken from the scene of the accident to Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston.

(Licking) – A Licking resident suffered minor injuries after an accident near Licking that involved a horse-drawn buggy.

The accident happened Friday at 1:35 PM on Boone Creek Road, a mile west of Licking, when the northbound buggy operated by 22-year-old Eli Schwartz was hit head on by an oncoming vehicle.

Schwartz suffered minor injuries and was checked at the scene by first responders, according to a report from Troop G of the Highway Patrol. The driver of the vehicle, 88-year-old William Moore of Licking, was uninjured.

(Willow Springs)- With these last few weeks of summer turning out to be some of the hottest we’ve seen this year, the ideal way to beat the heat is to go cool off in the city pool.

Willow Springs City Administrator Bob Pollard shares that due to the recent lack of staff, the water park part of the Willow Spring City Pool has had to be closed, sometimes without notice:

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For more information on the City Pool or other issues in the city you can call the Willow Springs City Hall at 417-469-2107 or the City Pool at 417-469-1537.

(Royal Ridge Designs)

(Royal Ridge Designs)

(Ava) – Sunday marks the beginning of the annual Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association Show and Celebration.

Joyce Graening, the president of the MFTHBA, spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the show on Sunday:

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She also talked about some of the events later next week:

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For more information visit www.mfthba.com.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri voters are likely to hear a lot about good teachers and local control in the coming months, as a costly campaign unfolds over a ballot proposal that would link teachers’ salaries and jobs to the performance of their students.

The proposal, known as Constitutional Amendment 3, may be the most prominent item on the November ballot, which for the first time since 1990 lacks an election for one of the big three offices of president, U.S. Senate or governor.

The teacher-evaluation proposal is being bankrolled by prominent political activist Rex Sinquefield, an investment firm founder who has a history of spending millions of dollars on his favorite causes. It’s opposed by a public education coalition financed largely by teachers’ unions that are pledging a vigorous advertising effort.

The proposal would end tenure protections for newly hired teachers, who currently qualify for indefinite contracts after working for five years at a public school district. They instead could have contracts of no more than three years.

Starting next July, the measure also would require schools to adopt an evaluation system that relies largely on “quantifiable student performance data” to make decisions about paying and retaining staff.

A Sinquefield spokeswoman said he wasn’t available to comment but pointed to a video posted on Sinquefield’s website in which he says teacher tenure protections must be ended to improve education.

“We’ve got to have good teachers and get rid of the bad ones,” Sinquefield says in the video.

Teachers’ groups contend the measure fails to ensure students get the best possible instruction and could actually worsen their education by multiplying the number of standardized tests students must take.

With “more emphasis on the standardized testing, learning will change for students. They will end up becoming a number and test score as opposed to an individual who should be looked at and taught that way,” said Mike Wood, the government relations director for the Missouri State Teachers Association.

Education groups assert that the ballot measure will take away local control from schools, drive up costs and force a one-size-fits-all approach for student testing and staff evaluations. They predict a tenfold increase in standardized tests, which currently are given only in core subjects in certain grades, but may have to be expanded to provide data for teacher evaluations.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted new staff evaluation guidelines earlier this year that require student performance to be a significant factor. But the ballot measure would take that further by requiring a majority of the evaluation to be based on the data.

Teachers groups contend the ballot initiative would diminish local control by requiring the state department to approve their evaluation systems in order to receive taxpayer funding.

Kate Casas, a spokeswoman for the Teach Great organization sponsoring the initiative, described the amendment as a “minor adjustment” to evaluation methods. She said it could result in “much more local control,” because superintendents and school boards could gain greater leeway to make staff changes.

Teach Great has received $1.8 million – nearly all of that from Sinquefield – to finance the initiative. It’s likely to get millions of more dollars as the campaign progresses.

The Committee in Support of Public Education is leading the campaign against the measure. Wood said opponents have a budget of a little over $2 million, with about half of that coming from the National Education Association and its state chapter, about $500,000 from affiliates of the Missouri State Teachers Association and $250,000 from the American Federation of Teachers.

Opponents plan to run “significant” amounts of TV and radio ads as the election approaches, said Mike Sherman, a Minneapolis-based consultant who has been hired as a spokesman for the opposition campaign.

“This probably is going to be the big issue” for Missouri’s elections, Sherman said. “You’re going to be hearing about this a whole lot.”

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri’s midterm elections will feature a full slate of contests for the U.S. House and the Missouri Legislature but little in the way of competitive statewide races. The ballot also will include several proposed constitutional amendments. Here are a few things to know about the November elections.

TOP OF THE TICKET

For the first time since 1990, Missouri’s general election ballot won’t feature races for any of the big three offices of president, U.S. Senate or governor. The only contest for a statewide office will be Missouri auditor, where Republican incumbent Tom Schweich appears headed for re-election. Schweich faces no Democratic opposition and has challengers only from the Libertarian and Constitution parties.

CONGRESSIONAL CALM

Missouri has elected a new member of Congress in each of the past several elections. But all eight incumbents are favored to win re-election this year. That could bring an end to the chain of change that began in 2008, when Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer won an open House seat in northeast Missouri. In 2010, Republican Vicky Hartzler ousted longtime Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton in west-central Missouri and Republican Billy Long won an open seat in southwest Missouri. In 2012, Republican Ann Wagner won an open U.S. House seat in suburban St. Louis. And last year, Republican Jason Smith won a special congressional election in southeast Missouri after Rep. Jo Ann Emerson resigned.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS

The biggest advertising battle may center on proposed Constitutional Amendment 3, which would change the way teachers and other school personnel are evaluated. The proposal would limit tenure protections and require public schools to adopt evaluation systems that rely largely on student performance data to make decisions about paying and retaining staff. The measure is being bankrolled by prominent political donor Rex Sinquefield and opposed by a coalition of education groups that are financed largely by teachers’ unions.

EARLY VOTING

One of the choices Missourians will face Nov. 4 is whether they want to be able to vote earlier in future general elections. Missouri currently allows absentee voting only for those who cannot make it to the polls on election day. Proposed Constitutional Amendment 6 would authorize a six-day, no-excuse-needed early voting period, ending the Wednesday before elections. But early voting still would not be allowed on weekends or after regular business hours, and it would occur only if the Legislature provides funding.

LEGISLATIVE CONTROL

As always, all 163 Missouri House seats and half of the 34 state Senate seats will be up for election. But only a small portion of those races are expected to be highly competitive. Republicans are expected to retain control of both chambers. The question is whether Republican strength will grow, or whether Democrats will gain the few seats necessary to prevent the GOP from maintaining the two-thirds majority required to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Abortion opponents are urging Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor to support banning the procedure 20 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, an effort by conservatives to move social issues to the forefront of a race that has focused more on the federal health overhaul.

A coalition of groups rallied at the state Capitol on Friday in favor of the measure, which bans the procedure based on the disputed notion that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Pryor has said he doesn’t support the measure and cites constitutional concerns. Republican rival and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton voted for the ban last year in Congress.

The Arkansas Legislature approved a similar ban last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. Beebe has said the measure was unconstitutional.