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Archive for June, 2012

(Kansas City, MO) – This is the time of year for fun outdoor activities like Independence Day celebrations, camping, outdoor grilling and road trips, but before you head out, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds you to plan for the dangers associated with wildfire threats. Learn and put into practice important summer-survival tips to help protect yourself, your property and the environment.

To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit filled with items such as prescription medication, water, and other essential items for you and your pet. Also, if you don’t have one, create a family emergency plan. More on these plans can be found at www.ready.gov.

Some other tips include:

  • Asking local emergency management officials or the local American Red Cross chapter how you would be warned if a wildfire threatened.
  • Meeting with other household members to discuss where to go and what to bring if advised to evacuate, and plan several escape routes away from your home – by car and by foot.
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire, and consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as the elderly, disabled persons, and children.

Tips to protect your home

  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation, including any hiding under structures.
  • Create a 100 foot safety zone around your home.
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof. Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet. Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas, and electricity at main switches.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home.
  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Follow local burning regulations.

Practice Wildfire Safety

In the U.S., nine out of 10 wildfires are started by people being careless. Take these steps to protect lives, property and the environment from the devastation they cause.

  • Contact your local fire department, health department, or forestry office for information on fire laws.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.

(West Plains) – The Ozark Radio Network presents Skyfire 2012, the premiere Fourth of July celebration in the area, Tuesday, July 3 at the West Plains Regional Airport in Pomona.

Gates will open at the airport at 5:30 PM, and live music will start at 6 PM. Other events scheduled for Skyfire include a fly-over at 6:30 PM, and an aviation expo by MPA and EAA from 7-8 PM. Fireworks will commence at dark.

Live music for the evening will be provided by the area semifinalists for the Texaco Country Showdown, a country music talent search with a grand prize of $100,000. Semifinalists for the region include: Erin Hicks of West Plains, Nikki Gatlin of Mountain View, Brady Peterson of West Plains, Jamie Perryman of Gepp, AR, Tammy Carey of Pottersville, Mikaela Deeds of Pomona, Lancer Blair of Salem, James Dunnihoo of West Plains, Angela Duddridge of Willow Springs, and Bobby, Wyatt and Colter Reid performing as The Reid Boys of West Plains.

“We’ve helped put on this event for roughly 15 years, and we’re proud to present Skyfire again this year,” said Ozark Radio Network president and CEO Tom Marhefka. “With the addition of the Texaco Country Showdown The forecast is calling for a hot day on Tuesday, so be sure to stop by the airport and celebrate our nation’s rich history and heritage with us!”

In the past, the event has been held at the West Plains Regional Airport with a variety of games, activities, and vendors. The cost in previous years was by donation, however, to help defer the rising cost of fireworks, an admission charge of $1 per person will be charged. Children who can comfortably fit in a car seat will be admitted for free.

Sponsors of the Texaco Country Showdown include HB’s Boot Corral and US Cellular. Skyfire 2012 sponsors include Centurylink, Caterpillar, Pepsi, and Miller Satellite.

For more information on Skyfire, call the Ozark Radio Network at 417-256-3131.

Smoke from this "massive" fire in southern Howell County could be seen from the Southern Hills Shopping Center in West Plains. (ORN Photo)

(Moody) – Firefighters from multiple departments fought what is being called a “massive” multi-acre fire in the Moody area in southern Howell County.

The fire started Thursday afternoon south on Route E. Howell County 911 received a call about a fire in a ditch at 4:23 PM.Firefighters from West Plains, Howell Rural, Moody, Bakersfield, Caulfield, Pottersville, and Lanton, along with departments from Arkansas were fighting the fire. Also on scene were officials with MoDOT, Howell-Oregon Electric, the Red Cross, the Howell County Sheriff’s Office, and South Howell County EMS.

A total of two barns and a well house were destroyed. Also, three pigs were killed in the 300-plus acre blaze.

One vehicle accident due to the amount of smoke in the area has been confirmed by the Highway Patrol. A two-car accident left six people injured, two of them seriously. Those two were taken by Air Evac to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.

Route E  from the state line to the area near the fire was shut down. Crews cleared the scene at 2:04 AM Friday morning.

Witnesses in the area say that a vehicle that was dragging a tailgate that caused sparks which caught the field on fire.

The official cause of the fire is unknown.

Smoke still hung in the air early Friday morning as crews surveyed the over 300 acres burned by Thursday's fire. (ORN Photo)

One of the two barns destroyed by the Thursday fire. (ORN Photo)

(Getty Photo)

From the White House:

Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support. And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too. And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition. They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else. And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared. And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now. It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield. For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time. But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer. And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year. And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today. And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law. And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time: putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

(West Plains) – A number of politicians and political candidates from Missouri and Arkansas have released statements on the Supreme Court’s passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon:

We’re just now beginning to review this ruling so that we can understand exactly what it means for Missouri. This ruling has significant complexities and implications for families, health care providers and insurers in our state. Here in Missouri, I’m committed to working collaboratively with citizens, businesses, medical providers and the legislature to move forward in a way that works best for families in our state.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe:

We will study the impact the Court’s ruling will have on health care in Arkansas going forward. In the mean time, our separate initiative to create cost savings and improve health care in Arkansas continues. Our aim is to set an example other states can follow, regardless of what transpires next in Washington, D.C.

US Senate Candidate Sarah Steelman:

I am disappointed and angry that the United States Supreme Court passed down a ruling which will alter the fabric of our nation by creating a fundamentally socialist healthcare system. Today’s ruling is not a republican ruling. It is not a democrat ruling. It is an establishment ruling. Lead by Chief Justice Roberts, an establishment appointee, more focused on keeping power in the hands of Washington politicians…for months, Obamacare opponents have said that the individual mandate was a tax while Obama and his liberal enablers in the media mocked us. All this grand expansion of the taxing authority will do is lead to more uncertainty, less growth, and fewer jobs. Once again, the establishement of both parties have increased their power at the expense of our nation. I will vote to repeal Obamacare.

Ed Martin, candidate for Missouri Attorney General:

I am thoroughly disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling today. Proponents of individualism and the free market such as myself have been dealt serious blow. ObamaCare is an egregious attack on our personal freedom and liberty, and will have untold consequences for our country in the years to come. With more federal regulation and overreach undoubtedly on the way, we need and deserve an Attorney General who will be our lawyer, not Obama’s lawyer. Unfortunately, (AG Chris) Koster has shown time and time again that he would rather drift with the prevailing political winds than represent the interests of Missourians.

The Missouri State Medical Association:

MSMA continues to prepare for the many changes PPACA will beget, and will make every effort to ensure that those changes ­ and the multitude of rules and regulations promulgated to implement them ­ are first and foremost in the best interest of our patients. Toward that end, MSMA encourages Congress and the Obama Administration to adhere to the following core principles as the manifold provisions of PPACA are set into motion.

An American flag flies in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on the eve of Thursday's expected ruling on whether or not the Affordable Care Act passes the test of constitutionality Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Washington) (AP) – The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul.

The decision means the huge overhaul, still only partly in effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care. The ruling also hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Breaking with the court’s other conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts announced the judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The justices rejected two of the administration’s three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed as a tax. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” Roberts said.

The court found problems with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t take part in the law’s extension.

The court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.

Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

“The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding,” the dissenters said in a joint statement.

Republican campaign strategists said presidential candidate Mitt Romney will use the court’s ruling to continue campaigning against “Obamacare” and attacking the president’s signature health care program as a tax increase.

“Obama might have his law, but the GOP has a cause,” said veteran campaign adviser Terry Holt. “This promises to galvanize Republican support around a repeal of what could well be called the largest tax increase in American history.”

While the high reached 99° at the Ozark Radio Network on June 27, the West Plains Civic Center marked 101°, tying the record high for that day in the area. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – With the extreme temperatures seen this week, West Plains has opened a number of cooling centers to help people beat the heat. City Emergency Management Director Kent Edge spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more:

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Officials say that the Mountain View Senior Center and Willow Springs Senior Center are also open in those cities as cooling stations.

(Willow Springs) – The city of Willow Springs has temporarily extended the hours at the city water park. Beginning Friday, June 29 the water park will be open from 12-7 PM Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours will be 1-6 PM.

City Administrator Bob Pollard says that things have been busy at the water park this year, and he encourages people from surrounding cities to come:

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For further information, please call City Hall at 417-469-2107 or the Willow Springs Water Park at 417-469-1537.

(Gainesville) – A Licking resident was injured Wednesday morning after the vehicle she was driving overturned on Route 181 near Gainesville.

51-year-old Patsy Saxton was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains after the 11:05 AM accident.

A report from the Highway Patrol says that Saxton was traveling north on Route 181 when the vehicle failed to negotiate a curve, ran off-road, overcorrected and overturned.

(West Plains) – Beginning the morning of Monday, July 2, city crews will be doing water work starting at 7 AM at the intersections of West Main and Missouri Avenue; Missouri Avenue and Cass Avenue; Garfield Avenue and Cass Avenue; Lincoln Avenue and Cass Avenue

Water will be shut off starting at 7 AM and will be off until further notice in the areas of Cass Avenue, from Pennsylvania Avenue to Jefferson Avenue; West Main Street from Missouri Avenue to the Square; Garfield Avenue from West Main Street to Broadway; and Missouri Avenue from West Main to Broadway

During this time crews will be replacing valves and fire hydrants and making connections.

For more information, call West Plains City Hall at 417-256-7176.