March: Double murder plea makes springtime headlines
A 19-year-old man's guilty plea to a double murder, a benefit for a native Nevadan catastrophically injured in a train accident and announcements of the Conservation and Grassland Farmers of the Year Awards were prominent in March 2011 news.
Garrett Matthew Mason of Nevada appeared before a Joplin judge March 7 to concede second degree murder charges in the May 2009 stabbing deaths of Annie Reed and Kylie Leyva. Mason is serving two concurrent life sentences in Missouri Department of Corrections.
Friends of 1986 Nevada High School graduate Larry McVay staged a March 5 benefit for him at Boomer's Roadhouse after the Norfolk Southern Railway conductor lost his right arm and right leg when a train backed into him near Lafayette, Ind.
Organizer Debbie Scotten said $1,672 was raised for the McVay family in an auction and other activities. "More than 50 percent of the 114 people who came by didn't know Larry," Scotten said.
"They just knew what happened."
Participants in the Vernon County Soil & Water Conservation District Dinner March 25 in the County Fairgrounds Home Economics Building saw Everett and Ruby Forkner of Richards named Conservation Farmers of the Year and Carey and Diane McNeil of Bronaugh Grassland Farmers of the Year.
Twenty kids took part in the event's poster contest with the top three third graders being Dacy Turner, Landon Murphy and Dalton Bates of Nevada and top fourth graders Andrew Kapas and Spencer Hawkins of Nevada and Paige Wait of Bronaugh.
In other news, the Nevada-Vernon Area County Chamber of Commerce presented its Pacesetter Awards March 11 at the Service Edge Cafe with the Wayne Neal Business Award going to Barone Alzheimer's Care Center.
There was a tie for the Community Betterment Award between Nevada Lions Club and R-5 Schools Director of Health Services Denise Nelson. State Rep. Barney Fisher was Individual Pacesetter of the Year.
A happy Ted Williams was photographed in mid-March astraddle his 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcyle after his retirement from the Nevada Police Department, where he had spent 27 years as an officer.
Williams said the best thing about being a policeman "wasn't eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. I enjoyed the whole Boy Scout thing, helping people."
April: Wadel pleads guilty in kidnapping caper; Kraft dies
April began with a guilty plea in the 2009 kidnapping of a New Jersey man. Andrew Wadel pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and three lesser charges.
In the city of Nevada, it was a big month. The fire department dedicated a new truck, and voters re-elected Sherry Steward and Brian Leonard to terms on the city council. Leonard was named mayor.
Prairie Pride became part of Archer Daniels Midland, an agricultural giant that employs nearly 30,000 people nationawide. The company turns crops into renewable products and has a diveristy of agicultural interests and markets in more than 60 countries.
Prominent Nevada resident Joe Kraft died April 10 at a Fayetteville, Ark., hospital. Kraft was a World War II veteran, a businessman and served on the Nevada City Council from 1956-'63. In addition to serving on the council, Kraft was co-chair of the Nevada Charter Committee.
The Nevada Habilitation Center continued in the state-mandated transition of many of its clients from being residents of the center to residents of group homes in the community.
"We're not closing, we're just changing the way we do business," Hab Center Superintendent Chris Baker said in April. "We're taking all services and moving them into the community. We serve a wide range of individuals, some independent and able to take care of themselves and other folks who need almost total care. The goal is to have everyone moved by January 2013."
The Vernon County Sheriff's Office recovered thousands in stolen propery, from a home in the north central part of Vernon County and arrested two suspects.
Fun and games were part of April's sequence of events as well, with donkey basketball coming back to the area.
The head-over-heels fun benefitted a local school organization.
The Bushwhacker Museum was getting ready for its summer season; and across the state line, the Fort Scott National Historic Site discontinued its admission fee.
As the month came to a close, four area authors gathered for a "Meet the Authors" open house and book signing event at the Nevada Public Library.
The event heralded the release of a new book by Ozark Writers, Inc., "Myteries of the Ozarks III," a collection of works by area authors, including Vernon Countians Doris Quackenbush, Nancy Malcom and Carolyn Gray Thornton.