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Parson speaks to priorities on colleges, infrastructure
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GRUNDY COUNTY, Mo. — In visiting the agricultural annex Thursday of a growing regional college, Gov. Mike Parson pledged to defend Missouri farmers, while speaking to his broader agenda.

At the event outside Trenton, Parson spent a few moments to sign HB 574, a measure sponsored by state Rep. Kent Haden, R-Mexico, with the stated purpose of shielding farmers from unauthorized or surreptitious investigations by nongovernmental agencies and others who advocate for animal welfare.

“Agriculture is the heart and soul of our state,” he said.

With legislative delegates in tow, including Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, Parson’s comments largely focused on regional institutions and infrastructure. The venue, the Barton Farm Campus of North Central Missouri College, called attention to regional business advocacy for greater numbers of young adults who are trained in valuable industrial skills, namely welding, precision machining or nursing.

“Those are all things that mean people are coming to the state, building their businesses and expanding,” Parson said. “But we gotta have the workforce available. That’s why (community colleges are) a priority.”

North Central is expected to partner closely with Missouri Western State University toward these ends. As it develops its Andrew County expansion campus and prepares to take over adult education at the Hillyard Technical Center, it will be among the largest education agencies in the area, comparable to MWSU, Northwest Missouri State University and the St. Joseph School District.

Hegeman referred to how NCMC aims to house most of its health sciences education in his home county, while leveraging the mechanical learning laboratories at the tech center. These all will be part of a greater institutional whole, and will not provoke internal competition for resources, he said.

“And we have supported these colleges and increased that support,” Hegeman said. “In this year’s budget, we increased their core funding by $10 million across the state. We continue to work with businesses and provide what many of our business leaders need.”

In other news: 

Parson said he will continue to coordinate with the state delegation to the U.S. Congress on obtaining federal funding for Missouri roads, construction projects and broadband internet service expansion, among other infrastructure needs.

He said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, will be a partner in this effort that is taking place amid a major push by the administration of President Joe Biden to upgrade the nation’s brick-and-mortar assets.

But Parson also offered a note of skepticism.

“The trouble with the federal government, most times, is when they try to put a package together, it’s got so many things that don’t have anything to do with infrastructure.”

Also: 

Parson said he is disappointed by the June 9 ruling of judges Jane Kelly, Roger Wollman and David Stras of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which will, at least for now, keep Missouri from banning abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. That rule would have been applied by the Missouri House Bill 126, sponsored in 2019 by state Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon. The law, which Parson signed in May 2019, is entitled the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act. 

Parson said the legal battle will continue, referencing how a similar state law in Mississippi has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. That court agreed to hear the case last month, and when it eventually rules, a new nationwide abortion standard could be put in place. 

"You wouldn't really have expected that from the Eighth (Circuit)," Parson said. "You know, this is all going to be settled in the Supreme Court ... It's just where it's all going to go to, it's going to end up in the Supreme Court of the United States and they're gonna make a decision on that issue." 

For now, the eight-week rule is not in effect. Kelly, appointed in 2013 by President Barack Obama, and Wollman, who is a 1985 nominee of President Ronald Reagan, held that Judge Howard Sachs, elevated by President Jimmy Carer in 1979, acted correctly in August 2019 in blocking HB 126. From the federal judicial district of Western Missouri, Sachs found plaintiff Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, Inc., was likely to prevail on its claim that HB 126 violates a woman's constitutional right to medical privacy.


Weather
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Emergency officials discuss tornado preparedness
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It has been a relatively mild season for tornadoes in the Midwest this year.

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. had no deaths from tornadoes in May for the first time since 2014.

News-Press NOW’s Chief Meteorologist, Bruce Thomas said the lack of tornadoes is due to a cool, wet spring and not enough heat or wind shear.

Thomas said June is the second-highest risk month for tornadoes and encourages people to have at least three different ways to be alerted for serve weather.

Bill Brinton, the Buchanan County emergency coordinator, said even though springtime is when tornadoes generally occur, they can happen any time of the year.

“There really is no time zone for it because last year we had tornadoes in the Midwest in November and December,” Brinton said.

Brinton said it is essential to be prepared no matter the time of year by having a plan.

“Every family should have an emergency plan, (which should) include things like food and where to go to be safe, and that’s usually the lowest part of your house, away from windows,” Brinton said.

Sarah Clark-Williams, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas, said many people confuse the difference between a tornado watch and a warning.

“A tornado watch means that a tornado is possible, it could be produced, and then a tornado warning is the more intense urgency, it means that a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon,” Clark-Williams said. “And a warning is really the time that you need to seek your space, your safe place immediately.”

Both Brinton and Clark-Williams said one of the best ways to be prepared is to have an app on your phone to alert when there is a tornado or other serve weather is near.

“Something people need to think about is that in Buchanan County, all of our sirens go off at the same time. And sirens are meant to be heard from people outside,” Brinton said. “You should have an application on your phone that notifies you when you’re either in a watch or a warning so you can take cover.”

Brinton said this can be helpful during the night when people are sleeping and may not be aware of the weather.

Clark-Williams said the American Red Cross has an app that will send alerts and safety tips.

“The emergency app will notify you of a watch or warning, just like a weather radio does. So you can get alerts and tips for staying safe in tornado season. And the free tornado outputs the information you need to prepare for and recover from this type of weather event. You can receive weather alerts for watches or warnings that are happening in your community, or any location, where a loved one is,” Clark-Williams said.


Public_safety
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Keep summer toys, décor and equipment safe
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As temperatures rise and people move into outdoor living spaces, steps should be taken to keep outdoor tools, furniture and décor safe from theft.

Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett said people can do a few things to help make sure their property remains with them.

“These are crimes of opportunity where people will get things out, they leave them in the yard, close to the road, they forget or they’ve been working and they leave things working. People that want to do bad things and steal and that type of stuff drive by and they are targets of opportunity. They jump out, grab stuff, throw it in the back of a truck or car and then they are gone,” he said. “Make sure that everything is picked up, things are not left close to the road or in the yard, things are locked up.”

However, if a situation does happen, Puett said a security system with cameras could help in retrieving stolen items. But even more importantly, it’s a way to identify that the item is in fact yours.

“Cameras, making sure that people have serial numbers written down, item description and those types of things. Oftentimes somebody says ‘I had a bike stolen’ well what kind of bike, ‘I don’t remember and ‘I don’t know what the serial number is.’ So to make sure that we recover something, a Weed Eater or a mower, those are good things to have,” Puett said. “Having suspect information like on cameras is good to have pictures or recordings of the people who are committing the crime, including vehicle description of what they might be using to commit those crimes.”

If you do become a victim of theft, Puett said it’s important to report it as soon as it is noticed.

“Cameras are a good idea and checking with neighbors to see if anybody else has a recording are all important things. Preventing crime is probably the first and best option for us,” Puett said. “We don’t want people to be victims of crime, we don’t want them to fall victim to theft or any kind of crime, so keeping things put away from a crime of opportunity is kind of the best first step to not be a victim.”


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