A look at the latest news in Texas County. 

• Daily trout tags, along with a fishing permit, unless exempt, will be required beginning May 16 for fishing at all four trout parks: Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James.

Based on this news, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is working on its transition plan to safely reopen MDC facilities.

•On May 4, concession-operated lodging, such as those at Montauk State Park, dining, marina and retail operations will begin reopening at the discretion of the individual concessionaires and following Gov. Mike Parson’s recommended guidelines.

•New COVID-19 tools are available here. 

•Two popular events in Springfield have been cancelled. Honda Gold Wing ‘Wing Ding’ and street rod nationals were expected to bring at least 13,000 people in May and early July. It has a big impact on the travel industry.

•The Department of Social Services has received waiver approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to extend Pandemic Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (P-SNAP) benefits through May 2020.  This extension of P-SNAP benefits enables Missouri SNAP households to continue to receive the maximum Food Stamp/SNAP benefit amount for their household size. P-SNAP is part of the Families First Act and Missouri Food Stamp/SNAP benefit households automatically get the maximum benefit for their household size on the normal date their benefit is loaded onto their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.  Food Stamp/SNAP maximum household benefit amounts are available online.  As of March 31, 2020, 311,401 Missouri households or 660,628 individuals receive Food Stamp/SNAP benefits.

•“Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department in early May. People receiving SSI benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Information section to provide their information. SSI recipients who have dependent children and did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Tuesday, May 5, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly.

•With the statewide Stay Home Missouri order set to expire on May 4, The Missouri Chamber fo Commerce is urging employers to download and use this Return to Work guide as they plan for operations to resume. Get the guide for free at mochamber.com/returntowork.

In addition, the Missouri Chamber is expanding on this topic by offering a free, three-part webinar series exploring ways to protect your workforce and workplace. The webinars will take place at 2 p.m. each day on April 28, 29 and 30. Learn more and register at mochamber.com/return-to-work-webinar.

• The Route 66 Summerfest committee announced that the new dates for the 26th annual event will be July 10-11. Due to the corona virus safety issues, the Summerfest committee has rescheduled the event that is usually held the first weekend in June. Rolla’s Summerfest traditionally kicks off the beginning of summer.

•Wonder when your government stimulus check will arrive? A new tool from the Internal Revenue Service is designed to tell Americans when they can expect their coronavirus stimulus money.  “Get My Payment” will launch April 17, the IRS said.

•In an acknowledgement that almost all OTC courses have an online element, the Ozarks Technical Community College Board of Trustees voted to eliminate online course fees beginning June 1. Currently, online students are charged a $65 fee for each course they attend. The board made the decision at its monthly meeting on Monday. To make up for the revenue that supports the infrastructure required to offer online education, the board voted to raise the student technology fee that all students pay to $19 per credit hour – an $11 increase.

•The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Missouri rose to 114 Monday from 39 deaths one week earlier. There were at least 4,388 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Monday, about a 60 percent increase from the week before. 

Closures extended: To protect the public amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Missouri Department of Conservation has extended the temporary closures of its facilities and cancellations of all public events and programs through April 30. Closures include regional offices, headquarters in Jefferson City, staffed shooting ranges, nature centers, visitor centers and education centers. MDC has also temporarily cancelled public events and programs, including hunter education classes, nature center programs and events, shooting range programs and events, and landowner workshops. All conservation areas, nature center trails and boat accesses remain open to the public.

•The Missouri Department of Conservation announced that kids’ fishing day set for May 2 at Montauk State Park east of Licking has been cancelled.

• Missouri reached 4,160 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Sunday. Public officials have discouraged residents from gathering for Easter. The state also reported 110 deaths.

•Health officials on Saturday said that Missouri now has 4,024 reported cases of COVID-19 and 109 deaths. That’s up by 225 cases and 13 deaths from Friday.

•The Missouri State Fair is still on for Aug. 13-23, it said Friday. “We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and work with local and state authorities on how to best proceed in the coming months,” according to a press release. 

•The Missouri State Highway Patrol  is extending the suspension of all written and skills-based driver road testing at all locations until April 27. This includes operator, commercial driver license and motorcycle testing. In addition, the patrol is extending the suspension of all salvage inspections at all locations and all bus inspections until April 27. This does not affect local businesses that are the providers of safety and emission inspections for the public and may continue to be open for services depending on their circumstances.

•Other news from Thursday’s briefing in Jefferson City: Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna said that traffic volume has decreased by about 40 percent during the statewide stay-at-home order. McKenna also said that speeding and distracted driving have been on the rise. 

“This is not the time to disregard the rules of the road,” McKenna said. “In fact, highway safety is more important now than ever in these trying times. During the coronavirus pandemic, the emergency room is the last place you want to find yourself.” 

Parson also said Thursday that he would not consider altering the state’s voting system in any way in response to the pandemic.

“I’m not interested making any drastic changes, nor should we make drastic changes out of fear,” he said.

•Following state and federal guidance, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is extending the temporary closures of its facilities and cancellations of its public events and programs through April 30. MDC will reassess the situation at that time.

•Drury University announced Thursday it will officially postpone May commencement ceremonies until August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony for evening, online and graduate students will be on Friday, Aug. 14. The ceremony for day school undergraduate students will be on Saturday, Aug. 15.

•Houston Economic Development Head Rob Harrington said Thursday evening that he’s interesting in hearing from local businesses who need assistance with navigating the economic crisis. Several programs are available. His phone number is 417-967-3348 or email ec.dev@houstonmo.org.

•Effective Friday, April 10, everyone entering the Fort Leonard Wood Commissary will need to wear a face covering. Customers must supply their own face coverings and must keep their face coverings on while inside the store. Face coverings are not required to be medical grade. Examples of non-medical face coverings are cloth masks, neck gaiters, scarves, bandanas, etc.

FORT WOOD COMMISSARY
FORT WOOD COMMISSARY

•Meal distribution will occur next week on Tuesday at the Houston School District. Elementary and middle school instruction packets can be picked up on Tuesday as well by the elementary gym.

•Office hours have changed at the Houston School District. There will be no office hours. All school buildings are closed to the public during the next three weeks, at least. The district’s central office is closed to the public. Mail and deliveries will still be accepted.

•The Missouri Milk Board and the Missouri Department of Agriculture on Monday night asked that grocers not place limit on milk purchases.

•Ozark Action Inc. has new hours, including an office at Houston. Ozark Action Inc. will have new, temporary office hours. They are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “OAI is committed to continuing to serve Missouri families with essential services, however first and foremost we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our staff and their families,” said OAI Executive Director Terry Sanders. “By closing the office for 85 hours between Thursday afternoon and Monday morning we believe we can maintain a healthier work environment.”

• At today’s press briefing, Gov. Mike Parson announced he has signed an executive order suspending a statutory requirement that a notary public must conduct the notarization of official documents while the signer appears personally in front of him or her. As requested by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the order allows for the use of audio-video technology to complete the personal appearance requirement, protecting the health and safety of both notaries public as well as Missourians who otherwise would have been required to have close contact with the notary.

• The U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood has temporarily delayed the movement of future soldiers to Basic Combat Training effective today. Those who are currently in Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training will continue training under the screening and monitoring guidelines established last month and will proceed to their next assignments upon graduation. This tactical pause will allow commands to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place and are operating effectively at training installations, officials said.

Area school districts are moving to distribute assignments in their local newspapers.

•The Texas County Library system will host a story time from children. Stories will be posted on its Facebook page at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

•The Fort Leonard Wood Post Exchange Pharmacy is set to begin offering curbside, drive-up service Monday, April 6.

•The Missouri State Highway Patrol is extending the suspension of all written and skills-based driver road testing at all locations until April 15. This includes operator, commercial driver license and motorcycle testing.

In addition, the patrol is extending the suspension of all salvage inspections at all locations and all bus inspections until April 15. This does not affect local businesses that are the providers of safety and emission inspections for the public and may continue to be open for services depending on their circumstances.

•Chancellors at all four University of Missouri campuses announced that in-person spring commencement exercises would be postponed and that each university will celebrate graduates, whether virtual or in-person in the future. “We know how disappointed our students, parents and families are that we won’t be able to hold our commencement ceremonies in May,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri System. “Hundreds of UM faculty and staff take part in these ceremonies each year, and it brings us great pride to celebrate our students’ accomplishments alongside them and their families. This May, we will have to adjust how we celebrate to ensure the safety of our university communities.”

In place of the in-person ceremonies, each university will celebrate their graduating class in some way virtually and/or set in-person opportunities at a later date. University leaders will share details of their plans to students and families in the near future.

All students who completed requirements for graduation will still have degrees conferred upon the regular schedule. 

•Opportunity Sheltered Industries, the county’s sheltered workshop, is closed until at least April 30. Details on how employees might receive a percentage of their pay is being determined, said Sharon Tyger, manager, in a statement. 

•The Ozark Trails Council, Boy Scouts of America, answered that call to action by donating more than 30,000 gloves to CoxHealth in Springfield. Originally, the gloves were a donation to the council to be used at camp or other youth activities, as needed.

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