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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.”


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.


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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City of West Plains Hires New Public Relations Coordinator

Cody Sanders has joined the City of West Plains as its Public Relations Coordinator.

Sanders, a West Plains native, joins the City staff after spending nearly 10 years in community journalism, most recently serving as News Director of the Ozark Marketing Company. Sanders will develop, coordinate, and direct public relations activities for the City. Sanders will oversee all areas of communications, including public relations, marketing, news releases, internal and external publications, social media, and website management.

“I am excited to join the City of West Plains,” says Cody Sanders. “I look forward to keeping the community up to date with city happenings. There are a lot of great things happening in the city and it’s going to be rewarding to share.”

Community Services Director Todd Shanks said he was excited to add Sanders to the City of West Plains team. “With Cody’s extensive journalism background, knowledge of the area, and his passion for West Plains, we have no doubt he is going to be a wonderful addition,” said Shanks. 

To learn more about the City of West Plains, visit or call 417-256-7176. You can also follow the City of West Plains on Facebook.

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City of West Plains participating in statewide Pedestrian Awareness Week

Across the state of Missouri, cities and law enforcement agencies are educating the public on pedestrian safety. The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety has announced a campaign running through June 12 focusing on just that. The campaign is geared toward pedestrians and drivers, educating both about being alert and what to watch out for to ensure everyone is safe.

Preliminary data from 2020 indicates 128 pedestrians were killed and 316 others were seriously injured in Missouri traffic crashes. The top contributing factors for pedestrians involved in these crashes were failure to yield, alcohol or drug impairment, and distraction or inattention.

Locally, the West Plains Police Department wants the community to be aware of an increase in foot traffic.

“With school being out of session for the summer, I’d like to remind drivers that more pedestrians will be in and around neighborhoods and parks,” said West Plains Police Chief Stephen Monticelli. “I would also urge parents to take a few moments and discuss the following tips with their kids to make certain they understand them.”

  • Drivers and pedestrians need to make eye contact with each other. Don’t assume that the other one has seen you.
  • If your vehicle is stranded, remain in the vehicle with your seat belt on. If you must exit a stalled vehicle alongside the roadway, do so on the opposite side of traffic and do not attempt to walk across the oncoming traffic.
  • Only cross at an intersection or crosswalk. Stepping out from between parked cars or other obstacles by the road can keep a driver from being able to see you and stop in time.
  • Look left, right and then left again before crossing an intersection or crosswalk. You always want to double check the lane that you will be entering first.
  • Be aware of drivers even when you are in a designated crosswalk.  Drivers can look and use their mirrors, but there are always blind spots.
  • Avoid walking while wearing headphones. You will not be able to hear if a car is coming.
  • Always wear brightly colored clothing for visibility when exercising alongside a roadway.
  • Always walk against the flow of traffic rather than with the traffic.
  • Always be cautious when exiting parking lots and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
  • Always put your cellphone down and do not look at it when driving or walking. Stay alert to all the challenges of the road.

To learn more, visit

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