We started the week in Little Rock for the Arkansas Public Service Commission's hearing on the new proposed SWEPCO power line.

We started the week in Little Rock for the Arkansas Public Service Commission's hearing on the new proposed SWEPCO power line.

There were originally six possible routes but they had eliminated three of them by the hearing Monday. SWEPCO began by giving the reasons for the new line. In 2008, it was determined that the line would be necessary to prevent eventual brownouts from increasing demand. They were required by the PSC to meet certain criteria in their planning stage. Overall cost, health concerns, public safety, ecological and environmental concerns, service disruptions, land use disruptions, and aesthetics were all considered. After hearing from several lawyers for opposing parties, most of who had negotiated compromises, the PSC testified that they had no objection to the most direct of the three routes. That was good news for us as it eliminates the route that would take the line through Barry and McDonald counties. We will continue to monitor the plans but it looks like the decision has been made.

On Tuesday, Preferred Family Healthcare had their grand opening. If you remember, their facility was ready to open just prior to Joplin's tornado. They were asked to sell their brand new building to Mercy for a much needed replacement. They immediately agreed and have waited two more years for their building. It was certainly wonderful to see all the happy faces of the staff and supporters. My hat's really off to those guys!

Thursday, I was a guest at the McDonald County Coalition. The meeting was well attended with representation from the cities, the county and the state and we heard presentations from Tyson's, COAD, and Regional Youth Ambassadors.

Jesse James Days was in full swing with fun, food, and music for everyone. The heat kept the crowds down a little but overall the celebration was a great success generating some much-needed revenue for our firefighters.

I am really happy to see growth all over the district! Every town in my district is making changes. They are getting a new Sonic in Seneca, the Noel Betterment Society is actively working on improvements, Anderson has some new retailers, and you can see buildings going up everywhere. We will be getting new FEMA buildings at some McDonald County grade schools. Overall, business is improving and we seem to be recovering nicely from the recession. Our state revenues are up nearly $400 million over last year and we seem to be holding the increases. That will make it a lot easier to work the budget next year. We have no choice but to balance our state budget as it is a constitutional requirement, but let me emphasize: the General Assembly funded education with a record amount last year and I fully intend to work for increases next year. It does pay off, the School Improvement Program Annual Performance Reports were recently released. It didn't surprise me a bit to see McDonald County, Seneca, East Newton, and Neosho at the top of the ratings!

We're still trying to get accustomed to living on the river. It's amazing how much stuff you can do without. My biggest problem so far is trying to figure out which storage building or trailer I put which tool in.

Food For Thought this week: If you have to get your parents' permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion, you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
Until next week, I am and remain in your service.

Bill Lant serves the people of Newton and McDonald counties in the Missouri House of Representatives.