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Archive for April, 2012

(Little Rock) – The upcoming deer hunting seasons for the state have been set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The seasons were approved at Thursday’s Commission meeting.

Season dates for the 2012-13 deer hunting season:

Archery – All zones: Sept. 15-Feb. 28, 2013.

Modern Gun – Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 10-Dec. 2.

Zone 4: Nov. 10-11.

Zone 5: Nov. 10-11 and Nov. 17-18.

Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 10-Dec. 9.

Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 10-18.

Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 10-Dec. 16.

Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 10-Dec. 25.

Muzzleloader - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15: Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 15-17.

Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 29-31.

Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.

The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is December 26-28. Two special youth modern gun deer hunts will be held, one on Nov. 3-4 and the second Jan. 5-6, 2013. A proposed antlerless only modern gun deer hunt would be held in zones 1, 1A, 2, 6, 6A, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17 Oct. 13-17.

Hunters harvested a total 192,748 deer during the 2011-2012 deer season, a four percent increase from the previous season’s harvest of 186,165. Buck harvest increased from 82,973 to 85,284 deer while the doe harvest increased from 88,341 to 93,838 deer.

(West Plains) – An event Saturday will benefit the West Plains Regional Animal Shelter and is being headed up by Bikers United. Lynn Jewell says there will be plenty of activities, all inside at the West Plains Civic Center:

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There will be food and drinks for sale and other giveaways. Jewell says Biker United has selected the West Plains Regional Animal Shelter as the beneficiary of their annual fundraiser this year.

(West Plains) – Wednesday, the 37th Judicial Circuit Court held the preliminary hearing for Guy E. Varnell, the 47-year-old rural Alton man accused of bludgeoning his neighbor, 51-year-old Narda Pranke, to death, then chopping up her body with a hatchet on or about February 25 or 26. Varnell has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of first degree murder. According to court records, prior to Pranke’s death the two had been arguing over feral cats she kept on her land.

Varnell was questioned by the Oregon County Sheriff’s Department after they were tipped that a possible murder had occurred. According to a statement released by the sheriff’s office the reporting party told them that Varnell had called and said he had killed the “cat woman.” Police checked her property and could not find her; they later received a tip that told them to check a remote shed near her property. There they found plastic bags with Pranke’s body parts. Deputies later found the victim’s torso hidden in brush.

Varnell, who reportedly had worked for Pranke, lived about a half mile up the road from her on County Road 204 about 7 miles east of Alton off Highway 160. When asked why he killed his neighbor he allegedly told deputies that she was “nagging and I lost my temper and killed her.”

Varnell then left her body on her property for several days until Feb. 29 when he went back to the crime scene and chopped her up in an effort to dispose of the body, according to what he told police.

Varnell waived his preliminary hearing and will be arraigned May 7.

Saba, second from right, and Alicia May, far right, stand outside of the West Plains Middle School Wednesday morning speaking with school officials and the middle school DARE officer. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – One of the hot topics across the country in recent months is the subject of bullying, and how to stop it. One family in West Plains says they’re tired of the bullying their kids are receiving, and what they call inaction by the school district.

Inam Saba, an Israeli-American who has lived in the United States for over 25 years and currently lives in West Plains, says that her children have been bullied for many years because of their ethnic background, being called racist and derogatory names. She says that everything came to a head Tuesday night, and she decided to do something about it:

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Inam says that her oldest son Nick was constantly badgered while in high school, and that he eventually dropped out because of it:

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She also cited an incident that happened to her son:

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Saba says that a recent incident that happened with her oldest daughter was when one of her classmates “tagged” her name to a political cartoon of a beheaded Osama Bin Laden on Facebook.

Inam says that the same racially-fueled name-calling is happening again with their 11-year-old daughter, who just recently entered middle school.

She says that, although the children are hurt by the words, they are reluctant to name the children who are bullying them, because they don’t want to lose friends for fear of being labeled a “snitch”, or a tattle-tale.

Saba says that she will be outside the middle school each morning until “something is done”, and she urges any students that have been bullied, or parents who think their kids have been bullied, to come forward and seek help.

THE SCHOOL RESPONDS

In an official statement, representatives with the West Plains R-7 School District told Ozark Radio News that “While we cannot disclose information regarding our students, their well-being in all areas from health, to food, to safety are always a top priority. We want to make sure our students are ready to learn when they enter the classroom”.

School representatives also told Ozark Radio News that, before the demonstration outside of the school, the Sabas have not officially brought any issues to the district superintendent or the school board.

The district said that when it comes to bullying in general, their policy in dealing with an incident is that a student is to refer to the counselor to discuss the incident. The counselor will get involved parties together to discuss the issue and try to resolve the problem. The incident is then documented and if a second issue occurs, the principals become involved. A third incident is then handled as a discipline issue, with one to three days of in school suspension or out of school suspension as punishment.

The district also sent Ozark Radio News information on the district’s anti-bullying campaign they teach to students, which includes a “School wide commitment to create a caring community including administration, teachers, staff, parents and students”. The middle school also teaches the students various ways to diffuse bullying, which includes using humor to de-escelate a situation, walking away from the situation, and telling authority figures about bullying.

(Licking) – An inmate at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.

Authorities say 66-year-old William Hand was pronounced dead of apparent natural causes around 1 AM on Tuesday morning.

Hand was serving a life sentence for a pharmacy robbery in Greene County. He had been incarcerated since March 2009.

(West Plains) – West Plains residents will see a 3% increase on their water and sewer bills starting in May, this after a rate increase was approved at the most recent West Plains City Council meeting, which was held Monday night at West Plains City Hall.

The water rates will now be $2.15 per 1,000 gallons for the first 1001 gallons used, up to 30,000 gallons, $2.04 per 1,000 gallons for 30,001 to 100,000 gallons used, and $1.75 per 1,000 gallons for 100,001 to 300,000 gallons, and $1.33 per 1,000 gallons for 300,001 gallons plus. Previous rates were $2.09, $1.98, $1.70 and $1.29, respectively.

(Jefferson City) – A bill in the Missouri House dealing with rivers and streams in the Ozarks has been debated this week. State Representative Ward Franz is optimistic about its future:

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The legislative session includes having a balanced budget on Governor Nixon’s desk by May 11.

(Willow Springs) – The Willow Springs City Council swore in two aldermen after verifying the recent election results at their most recent meeting April 16.

After verifying the election results, city clerk Gena Brook swore in Aldermen Troy Yonker and Alderwoman Susan Rackley.

After approving the consent agenda, which included bills, financial reports and a report from the YMCA, the council discussed existing business, which included Mayor Jay Waggoner signing a proclamation declaring the week of May 7-11 as National Pet Week in the city. Also, the council approved the motion to create an economic advisory committee, after City Administrator Bob Pollard discussed creating an economic development advisory committee to address moving forward with an economic development plan.

The council also heard from Bob Pollard on a roposal for updating the building permit fees. The council requested a formal ordinance revision for the next meeting. The council also approved the sale of surplus property.

In new business, a liquor license was approved for The Hang Out, and Pollard discussed the intent to secure a grant to extend Tenth Street to the business route. Preliminary engineering will be completed by Olsson Associates, the city’s engineering firm. The approximate cost is estimated at $250,000 to $500,000.

City Administrator Bob Pollard also discussed the recycling program, saying that the city has invested more and more city personnel and man hours to the volunteer program over recent years. Currently, the recycling program is maintained solely by city funds and personnel. Pollard proposed moving the recycle station currently located at city hall to the recycle center on Burnham Road. The move would mean fewer man hours transporting the recycle trailer to and from the recycle center on Burnham Road. Citizens would still have 24 hour access to drop off recyclables at the recycle center on Burnham Road.

City Police Chief Dan Dunn also discussed a MoDOT Highway Safety Grant application to provide funding for sobriety check points. The application was approved unanimously.

The next Willow Springs City Council meeting will be held May 22 at 6:30 PM.

(West Plains) – Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative (HOEC) recently completed a major upgrade of service in a large area of Oregon County starting at the Junction of Y Highway and Highway 160 and all points south of there to Myrtle and then continuing east.

The system improvements made will ensure continued reliability of service to cooperative members in that area. The work began at approximately 8 AM on April 25 and was completed ahead of schedule by 3 PM. HOEC linemen and engineers, that included nearly 50 crewmen, concentrated efforts to complete the enormous project as safely and as quickly as possible.

HOEC would like to thank those members that were affected by this planned outage for the patience while the work was being completed.

(West Plains) – For the second consecutive year, Missouri State University-West Plains has been named one of the top 120 two-year colleges in the United States by the Aspen Institute Community College Excellence Program and is now eligible to compete for prize money from the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The recognition, announced this week by Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Executive Director Josh Wyner, is based on a formula that assesses performance and improvement in graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates and equity in student outcomes.

Missouri State-West Plains was selected out of 1,200 community colleges across the nation and is one of only two recognized in Missouri. Univesity officials explained that athough not a community college, Missouri State-West Plains is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges as an associate degree-granting institution.

Colleges selected among the top 10 percent of the nation’s community colleges were chosen after an analysis of publicly available data on student outcomes. An advisory committee considered three criteria: performance, which include retention, graduation rates, and degrees and certificates for full-time students; steady improvement in each performance; and evidence of completion outcomes for minority and low-income students.

Missouri State-West Plains is now eligible to submit an application to compete for the prize money, which will include a single winner and four runners up. The application must include detailed data on degree/certificate completion, including progress and transfer rates; labor market outcomes (employment and earnings); and student learning outcomes. The university also must demonstrate it delivers exceptional student results for all students, including those who come from racial minority or low income backgrounds.

Ten finalists for the prize money will be announced in September, and, following site visits to each of the 10 institutions this fall, winners will be announced in March 2013.

This is the second Aspen Prize to be awarded. The inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to Valencia College in Orlando, FL, in December 2011. It was the first broad national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at individual community colleges.

The Aspen Prize was announced at a White House summit on community college education in October 2010 hosted by President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and a community college professor.

The Aspen Institute’s mission is two-fold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society; and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate campus-wide practices that significantly improve college student outcomes. The Aspen Prize is funded by the America Achieves, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation for Education.

For more information about the Aspen College Excellence Program and the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, visit www.AspenPrize.org. For more information about Missouri State University-West Plains, visit www.wp.missouristate.edu.