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Rate adjustment: City of West Plains updates refuse rates

For the first time since 2012, the City of West Plains has raised its refuse rates. The West Plains City Council approved the change, from $10.50 per month to $13.00 per month, during the May council meeting. The $2.50 adjustment can be seen on June utility bills.

The city’s refuse rates remain lower than out-of-town refuse services and multiple other municipalities.

“Our refuse department budget was in the negative,” said Public Works Director Jeff Hanshaw. “Following the rate adjustment, it’s in the positive and covers our administrative costs.”

Prior to the adjustment, the refuse department budget was negative $159,913, now it is positive $63,958.

You can learn more about the city’s refuse collection by visiting westplains.gov or by calling City Hall at 417-256-7176.

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City of West Plains hosts MU Rural Immersion Program

The City of West Plains recently welcomed 20 medical students participating in the University of Missouri’s Rural Immersion Program. The Rural Immersion Program is a four-day experience for students in healthcare professions interested in living and working in a rural area. The program is designed to highlight the social and communal aspects of rural life. Through group activities and meetings with community leaders, participants received a preview of life as a rural healthcare professional.

“West Plains was thrilled to host the MU Rural Immersion program,” said West Plains Planning Director Emily Gibson. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to host a program that highlights the impact and opportunities of living in a community such as ours.”

By participating in the Rural Immersion Program, students from medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physician assistantship, and nursing experienced working with other healthcare professions in a collaborative environment. The experience is designed to provide students with the opportunity to explore the non-clinical aspects of life as a rural provider.

The twenty students broke into four groups, each focusing on a different aspect of rural America: business, natural resources, education, and healthcare.

The groups spent four days meeting with professionals, taking tours, learning local history, and enjoying the Ozark’s natural beauty. The program culminated with the groups giving presentations on what they learned.

The groups enjoyed their stay in West Plains. “This has been an invaluable experience and we have learned so much,” said University of Missouri nursing student Maddison Breid.

“We appreciate the support of our community members, businesses and organizations for helping make this a first-class experience for these students,” said Gibson.

Schools participating in the Rural Immersion Program include MU School of Medicine, MU Sinclair School of Nursing, ATSU Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine, UMKC Physician Assistant Program, UMKC School of Pharmacy at MU, and ATSU Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health.

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Summer Reading Program underway at West Plains Public Library

After COVID-19 canceled the West Plains Public Library’s in-person portions of the 2020 Summer Reading Program, the library was once again excited to invite kids and adults to participate.

“I truly believe that what I see the most out of kids and parents is relief,” said Director of Library Services Shawnie Kennedy. “Relief not to have to be cooped up any longer, and relief to be able to socialize again. To feel a part of the village once again, instead of isolated. I think the kiddos are excited for the program, even though there is extra reading, because it is outside of the home, it involves other kids and they get a break from being cooped up.”

The program began June 1 with a “Kick Off Carnival” and will continue through July.

Through the first few weeks of the program, hundreds of kids have attended the scheduled storytimes, craft and activities.

“This has also been a great way for the library to get back into the swing of in-person programming,” said Kennedy. “The library is more welcoming than ever, more focused and ready to celebrate the lack of restrictions and limitations.”

Below is a schedule of events and activities for remainder of the program:

Ages 3-12 

  • Tuesdays – Storytime and crafts
  • Thursdays – Presenters and activities
  • Thursday, July 29 – End of Summer Reading Program party and prizes

Ages 13-18 

  • Fridays – Teen Program Days. Teens can earn book bucks for reading milestones and program participation.
  • Friday, July 30 – End of Summer Reading Program party and prizes.


Adults 

  • Every other Wednesday – Adult Summer Reading Program with prizes for events and reading milestones.

“I really want people to learn to love the library and all it has to offer, instead of just using the library because we have books or computers,” said Kennedy. “If we give the young people in our community great experiences and memories of being at the library, that will carry through to adulthood and they are likely to pass it on to the next generations.”

The West Plains Public Library is located at 750 W Broadway Street. Hours of operation are Mondays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can learn more by calling 417-256-4775 or visiting https://www.westplainslibrary.org.

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West Plains City Hall closed July 5, holiday trash routes announced

West Plains City Hall and other city offices will be closed Monday, July 5 in observance of Independence Day. Trash routes for Monday, July 5, will be picked up on Tuesday, July 6. No other routes will be affected that week.

The City’s Solid Waste Transfer Station and Recycle center will be closed on July 5and reopen July 6.

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West Plains City Council passes pair of resolutions

The West Plains City Council met in regular session Monday, June 22. Mayor Michael Topliff and councilmembers passed a pair of resolutions approving an agreement between the City of West Plains and South Central Ozarks Council of Government (SCOCOG).

The agreements are for administrative services as part of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant awards. One is a $2.5 million grant award for the St. Louis Street bridge, the other is a $2.5 million grant award for the U.S. Highway 160 Overpass Bridge.

The City Council also passed a pair of ordinances: An Ordinance amending Chapter 6, Animals and Fowl, Article II, Dogs, Section 6-45 Impoundment and Section 6-46 Disposition of Unclaimed Dogs in the Code of Ordinances and an Ordinance of the City of West Plains, Missouri to amend Chapter 18, Courts, of the Code of Ordinances for the City of West Plains, Missouri, by amending Section 18-40—Assessment for Statewide Court Automation Fund.

You can watch the City Council meeting in its entirety on the City’s YouTube channel.

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West Plains Public Library: Summer Reading Program includes visit from local author

Local author Annie England Noblin will be at the West Plains Public Library Wednesday, June 23, as part of the ongoing Summer Reading Program. Noblin will be at the library from 2 to 3 p.m. and will offer a reading from her new book, Maps For The Getaway. Her book will be available for purchase.

ABOUT MAPS FOR THE GETAWAY

When they posed for a photo at their high school graduation, they vowed they’d be friends forever, but teenage promises are so easily broken, and now, 30 years later, they’re practically strangers.

  • In MAPS FOR THE GETAWAY, there’s Cici—stuck in a rut, married to a cheating husband.
  • Genie—caring for her ailing father but never getting any thanks.
  • Kate—everyone knows people who look perfect on Instagram are not…
  •  And Laurie—the most successful of them all—now tragically gone.

To celebrate Laurie’s life, the three former friends rent a 1962 red Lincoln Continental convertible and  take the road trip of their lives—encountering male strippers, crazy motel rooms,  a boy band that had seen better days, adopting a loveable stray dog…and discovering that it’s never too late to live the wild life—because, sometimes, to find yourself you have to get away.

ABOUT ANNIE ENGLAND NOBLIN

Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three rescued bulldogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English for Arkansas State University. Her poetry has been featured in such publications as the Red Booth Review and the Moon City Review. For more information, please find Annie on Facebook: @AnnieEnglandNoblin and on Twitter: aenoblin.

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MPUA honors retired City Administrator Tom Stehn

The Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) has issued a Resolution of Appreciation and Recognition to former West Plains City Administrator Tom Stehn. Stehn, who retired from the City of West Plains May 1, returned to City Hall Friday, June 18 to receive the resolution.

“During Tom’s period of leadership, the City of West Plains installed a new automated meter infrastructure; began an integrated management plan to improve stormwater, drinking water and wastewater systems; broke ground on the 10.8 megawatt solar farm; and aggressively addressed the issue of internet connectivity for residential and business customers,” said City of West Plains Public Works Director Jeff Hanshaw.

The resolution reads: “Tom Stehn has faithfully provided leadership and supported the mission and activities of the Missouri Public Utility Alliance since 2011, providing leadership on the Boards of Directors of the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities, and the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, on behalf of the City of West Plains.”

Stehn served the citizens of West Plains as City Administrator and City Engineer from 2011 to 2021.

The MPUA is a not-for-profit service organization representing municipally owned utilities.

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West Plains Civic Center sees updates, improvements during COVID-19 shutdown

The West Plains Civic Center faced adversity in 2020. COVID-19 left its mark on the Center, as it forced most scheduled shows and events to postpone or cancel. Rather than sit idly by, the City of West Plains and the Civic Center chose to dedicate its time to renovation, upgrades, and updates.

“The pandemic closing the building was not something anyone could have ever expected, but this time gave our building the opportunity to be refreshed in a way that would have been much harder to do with our normal slate of concerts, theater productions, meetings, trade shows, and other events that make up the over 800 events that the Civic Center hosts each year,” said Civic Center Director Eryn Walters.

The list of updates is expansive and includes:

  • Freshly painted walls in the civic center lobby, halls and all seven meeting rooms
  • Updated sound system, drop-down screen and ceiling mounted projector in the Magnolia Room
  • New drop-down screen and ceiling mounted projector in the Walnut Room
  • New podium with updated city branding
  • New portable sound system with Bluetooth capabilities
  • New collegiate-sized basketball court
  • Removed damage walking track from the arena floor
  • New LED scoreboard system in arena
  • Completed core-drilling in the arena to be able to support events that require dual volleyball courts, such as the NJCAA National Volleyball Tournament
  • Updated the padding along the south wall of the arena and the curtain dividing the arena and the exhibit hall
  • Upgraded security cameras throughout the civic center
  • Upgraded operations equipment
  • Installed new marquee and signage
  • Installed new LED pool lighting

“The West Plains Civic Center is a gem to our town and the surrounding area,” said Walters. “Investing in this facility is an investment in our community. The Civic Center has over 150,000 people through its doors each year and with these improvements we are hoping to grow that number even more.”

The updates and upgrades will continue throughout 2021.

“Theater lighting will be replaced with LED lights this summer, and this fall we will have the Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) on the outside of the building repaired and the exterior windows in the pool area replaced,” said Walters. “We are going to continue to make upgrades and replacements as time goes forward. The building may get older but the memories that will be made here are timeless.”

UPCOMING EVENT

Country music icon John Conlee was scheduled to perform in concert in March 2020 but had to reschedule due to the pandemic. That rescheduled date is July 23, 2021.

Those who purchased tickets previously need to keep those tickets as they will be honored at the door.  Doors are 6 pm with showtime set for 7 pm.

Conlee has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1981. During his 40-year career in country music, he has brought to audiences such classics as: “Rose Colored Glasses”, “Friday Night Blues”, “Backside of 30”, “Common Man”, “Miss Emily’s Picture”, “I Don’t Remember Lovin’ You”, and more. Overall, there have been 29 single releases throughout the years with 26 of them charting in the top 20 or better. Eight of those 26 have reached the coveted No. 1 spot on the national country charts. 

Those interested in buying tickets for the John Conlee show should do so by calling the Civic Center Box Office at 417-256-8087 or visiting the box office Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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City of West Plains reminds citizens of firework laws

With Independence Day quickly approaching, the West Plains Police Department is reminding residents that discharging fireworks in the City limits is a violation of City Ordinance and will be enforced.

Sec. 20-44, Discharge of fireworks states, “No individual or organization may discharge fireworks as herein defined, without a permit. Discharging of display fireworks (as defined in the RSMo 320.106.1) will need to be approved by city council, no later than the June council meeting of said year. All state and local applications, permits, and inspections must be completed as well. (RSMo 320.126.1)

Section 28-77,  Rockets, Missiles and Projectiles states, “No person shall construct, use, discharge, fire, launch or explode rockets, missiles or other similar projectiles within the city unless a written permit for such specific purpose has been obtained from City Council.”

The full ordinance and all other ordinances pertaining to fireworks can be located in the city code book under the Government section of the city website.

Every year there are injuries and fires from the illegal discharging of fireworks. From mid-June until weeks after the Fourth of July holiday, the Police Department receives numerous complaints of peace disturbances throughout the City caused by fireworks.

The Police Department, with assistance from the West Plains Fire Department, want to make certain that our community remains safe during Fourth of July celebrations and will enforce the ordinance as it pertains to discharging of fireworks.

“It is important for parents to educate their children on the ordinance and the hazards of improper firework use,” said West Plains Police Chief Stephen Monticelli. “Officers will be given discretion on how to treat violations of the ordinance, which could include written warnings, citations, and/or the confiscation and destruction of the fireworks.”

The West Plains Police Department and City of West Plains wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday.

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West Plains and its founding father connection

One of the largest native trees in North America, the tulip poplar can reach heights of 150 feet. A member of the magnolia family, the tulip poplar is named for its distinct tulip-shaped leaves and flowers. These showy, goblet-shaped, green, orange, and yellow flowers appear in late spring.

Tulip poplars can be found across the Show-Me State, one such tree in West Plains provides a little-known connection to a founding father.

Standing tall in the middle of the Georgia White Walking Park is an offspring of a tulip poplar that George Washington planted in 1775 at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

The Missouri Department of Conservation, with assistance from the West Plains Rotary, planted the offspring tree April 3, 1991.

ABOUT GEORGIA WHITE WALKING PARK

The Georgia White Walking Park offers a 2.4-mile blacktopped trail conveniently located in the heart of the city. It is located on the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Thornburgh Street.

The park is named in honor of Georgia White, who in 1989 donated a portion of the land behind her home to the city of West Plains to develop a walking park. White passed away from cancer in 1990 before the park could be completed.

White began operating a boarding home out of her house in 1968 and continued to run it for many years taking care of the town’s elderly population.

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