Commission designates Howell as Purple Heart County

The Howell County Commission held a ceremony designating the county as a Purple Heart County on June 24. This designation affirms that the county government recognizes those in the community who gave their lives or were wounded in combat while serving in the United States Armed Forces. 
 
According to Northern Commissioner Calvin Wood, the county will be placing three (3) road signs displaying the Purple Heart to drivers who enter the county on US 60 west of Willow Springs, US 60 east of Mountain View, and US 63 west of Brandsville. Additional signs on other major roads entering the county are a possibility in the future, according to Wood. 
 
The Purple Heart is the oldest military award, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Gen. George Washington originally created the Badge of Military Merit, a cloth purple heart with the word “merit” stitched upon it, to recognize the brave acts of his men during the Revolutionary War. The medal was revived on Washington's 200th birthday in 1932 and World War I soldiers could apply for the medal. The first medal in modern times was given to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
 
In addition to unveiling the signs, Walt Schley with the Military Order of the Purple Heart presented a plaque to the commission for their dedication to Purple Heart recipients. Also attending the ceremony was Vietnam veteran Ray Weeks, Frieda Evans with the VFW Auxiliary, and Megan Nickey with Congressman Jason Smith's office.
 
The commission also signed off on a grant to upgrade an application used by the county assessor. Howell County Assessor Daniel Franks told the commission that this new application, named Vanguard, will allow more accurate assessments on properties. This is the software currently used by the Oregon County assessor. Franks said that this new system will be able to take into account newer home and building improvements like ground-source heat, laminate flooring, and solar systems. The 5-year cost of this new software is $248,062.50, roughly $49,600 per year and includes the cost of conversion. Presiding Commissioner Ralph Riggs asked how long rollout of the new software would take. Franks said that, if started that day, the data conversion from the old software would begin in August. The new software will affect reassessments next year. 
 
The Howell County Commissioners are Presiding Commissioner Ralph Riggs, Northern Commissioner Calvin Wood, and Southern Commissioner Billy Sexton. The commission meets in regular session on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The meetings remain open during the lunch hour and are open to the public. Contact the commissioners' chamber by phone at (417) 256-3872.
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