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Missouri State alumna, plant and soil expert, named dean of Darr College of Agriculture

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Missouri State alumna, plant and soil expert, named dean of Darr College of Agriculture


At the May meeting of Missouri State University’s Board of Governors, Melissa Bledsoe was officially announced as the dean of the Darr College of Agriculture.

She’d been serving as the interim for more than a year.

Provost John Jasinski made the introduction, noting many of Bledsoe’s accomplishments.

“Melissa has been recognized in the state of Missouri, nationally and internationally, for her work,” he told the MSU board at the May 9 meeting. “She’s had great mentors, lots of external partnerships with the Missouri Department of Agriculture — working with Silver Dollar City right now, Convoy of Hope — continues to teach and mentor and guide.”

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Jasinski pointed out that the expert in plant physiology and nutrition had obtained several grants and presented research nationally and internationally.

Bledsoe earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a master’s degree in plant science from Missouri State and then a doctorate in plant, insect and microbial sciences from the University of Missouri.

After working at MU’s division of plant sciences from 2010-13, she was hired as an assistant professor at Missouri State and then promoted to an associate professor.

Bledsoe is currently an endowed professor through the Clif and Gail Smart Professor in Agriculture award. She was also named the interim dean in 2023.

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“Dr. Bledsoe is the right choice to lead the Darr College of Agriculture as it continues to evolve, offering unique ‘farm-to-fork’ curriculum and learning experiences,” Jasinski said in a news release announcing Bledsoe was the permanent dean, starting May 1.

“Her student-focused, team-oriented and results-driven approach — combined with her understanding of changing internal needs and external expectations — will serve the college well for years to come.”

More: New pact outlines roles, responsibilities of Missouri State and MSU Foundation

The structure of the Darr College of Agriculture changed as part of the university’s recent academic realignment, taking hospitality leadership under its umbrella.

“The momentum of the Darr College of Agriculture is fueled by many opportunities on the horizon. I look forward to working with colleagues and the ag community to develop our programs to support the agriculture industry,” said Bledsoe, in the release. “It’s all for our students to learn, grow, and lead the future of agriculture.”

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Who is Laurin Krings? Stats, more to know of Missouri softball’s star pitcher amid NCAA Tournament

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Who is Laurin Krings? Stats, more to know of Missouri softball’s star pitcher amid NCAA Tournament


Missouri softball is once again playing for a trip to the Women’s College World Series, and it has Laurin Krings to thank for it.

Krings, who has been a key part of the Tigers pitching rotation since her freshman season in 2021, dominated inside the circle in Sunday’s Columbia Regional elimination game against Omaha, as she struck out 15 hitters across nine scoreless innings in the Tigers 1-0 win over the Mavericks.

Her heroics Sunday inside Mizzou Softball Stadium not only helped advance the Tigers to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament but capped off an impressive regional round: 364 pitches thrown in 25 innings across four games with a 0.56 ERA and 24 strikeouts.

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REQUIRED READING: How Laurin Krings fought, scrapped and carried Missouri softball to NCAA Super Regional

“I don’t think I’ve witnessed … A more gutsy, gritty performance by not only an individual player in Laurin Krings, but this team,” Tigers coach Larissa Anderson told the Columbia Daily Tribune after the game. “I mean backs up against the wall, losing on Friday and having to win a doubleheader yesterday, a doubleheader today. Just — I’m so proud.”

Now Krings will look to continue her success this weekend against No. 10 Duke as Missouri looks to advance to Oklahoma City for the first time in 13 years. Here’s what you need to know about Krings as she takes the mound this weekend against Duke in the Columbia Super Regional of the NCAA Softball Tournament:

Who is Laurin Krings?

Laurin Krings is the ace of Missouri’s pitching staff, which ranked second amongst all other SEC teams this season with a 1.96 ERA.

The 5-foot-8 right-hander out of Loveland, Colorado has played a key part in the Tigers staff pitching since her freshman year, where she led Tigers pitchers with 122 strikeouts to go along with an 11-3 record and a 3.68 ERA over 29 appearances (13 starts) in 2021.

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Krings followed up her freshman season by leading Missouri in wins (16) and strikeouts (185) in her sophomore season, which included her tossing the 12th perfect game in Mizzou history on 12 strikeouts against Bradley on March 6, 2022. She also threw a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman earlier that season, the first of two no-hitters of her collegiate career.

This season Krings has led Mizzou back to the postseason, specifically the Super Regionals, for the third consecutive season with a team-high 16 wins. Her 2.33 ERA ranks third on the Tigers staff and 25th in the SEC. She earned a spot on the SEC All-Defensive team thanks to her 1.000 fielding percentage in SEC play (22 assists, three putouts, zero errors) this season.

The Tigers’ senior ace shoved in the Columbia Regional this past weekend, as she pitched in 25 innings across Mizzou’s five games. In the four games that Krings pitched in, she only gave up three runs (two earned) while striking out 24 hitters.

Laurin Krings stats

Krings is having her best season in a Tigers uniform this year, posting a career-best 2.33 ERA with 139 strikeouts and a 16-8 record across 171.0 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are hitting .239 against Krings, which ranks second-best in her career.

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Here’s a full breakdown of Krings stats during her career at Missouri:

  • Record: 56-32
  • Appearances: 133
  • ERA: 2.79
  • Strikeouts: 591
  • Walks: 168
  • Complete games: 37
  • Shutouts: 15
  • Saves: Three
  • Opponents average: .245
  • Innings Pitched: 587 ⅓



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Family of Missouri man allegedly killed by Memphis murder suspect speaks

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Family of Missouri man allegedly killed by Memphis murder suspect speaks


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – U.S. Marshals and Memphis Police captured 18-year-old Demario Wilson two days ago and charged him with murder in the death of a Missouri father.

Authorities say the robbery turned shooting all happened over a gaming system, but the significant other of the man he’s accused of killing tells Action News 5, a different story.

Wilson is charged two counts of first degree murder and other robbery charges for the killing Homero Pena, Jr.

Pena came down to Memphis with someone he thought was a friend.

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His significant other tells Action News 5 she believes he was set up.

“I didn’t find out until later on that night what really happened to him,” said Kaitlyn Puga, Homero Pena’s significant other.

Kaitlyn Puga’s life hasn’t been the same since the father of her children was killed April 18th.

“He was really a good father,” said Puga. “The kids I guess they know that he’s gone now. That was everything to them.”

Kaitlyn and Homero Pena, Jr. had been dating since the fifth grade and share two daughters together with a third on the way.

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Memphis Police say 18-year-old Demario Wilson shot and killed Pena at Summit Arbors Circle near Covington Pike.

Puga says Pena and a friend drove from Kennett, Missouri to Memphis to exchange this car with Harris and others, but she urged him not to go.

“I believe that he told the dudes from Memphis, that Hermero took the car and basically took him down there, basically was a set up.”

U.S. Marshalls say a witness claims the shootout began over a gaming system but Puga doesn’t believe that and an affidavit from Memphis Police paints a different picture.

According to the affidavit, Harris shot Pena five times.

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Harris and two other people took car keys, a phone and cash from Pena after shooting him.

The affidavit also says the friend who was with Pena was also robbed of this phone and a Dodge Charger.

Police knew who Wilson was a witness identified him in a lineup, according to the affidavit.

He was arrested by the U.S. Marshall’s May 21st.

Wilson has an extensive criminal history. Police say he was arrested in November 2023 for a string of car thefts in East Memphis and running from police.

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Court records show that case was dismissed by Judge Bill Anderson.

Wilson was then charged for several vehicle burglaries that same month. Court records show he was indicted in March 2024, an arrest warrant was issued.

Wilson was charged May 21st for shooting up an apartment with a handgun with an extended magazine, that allegedly happened on May 14, after police took him into custody for Homero Pena’s murder.

Memphis Police tell Action News 5 there is an arrest warrant out for a second suspect.

Meanwhile Kaitlyn and Homero’s are hoping for more arrests and information for this case as they continue to grieve.

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Ribbon cutting celebrates opening of UFO Capital of Missouri Park

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Ribbon cutting celebrates opening of UFO Capital of Missouri Park


PIEDMONT, Mo. (KFVS) – A ribbon cutting on Thursday afternoon, May 23 celebrated the opening of the UFO Capital of Missouri Park.

According to a release from organizers, the first phase of the park is finished after nearly a year of planning.

A ribbon cutting on Thursday, May 23 celebrated the opening of the UFO Capital of Missouri Park in Piedmont, Mo.(KFVS)

In August 2023, the Missouri General Assembly passed SB139 designating Piedmont and Wayne County as the UFO Capitals of Missouri to mark the 50th anniversary of alleged unidentified flying object sightings in Piedmont.

The original bill sponsor Representative Chris Dinkins said the purpose of the designation was to increase tourism.

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Dinkins joined residents for the ribbon cutting on Thursday.

After seeing all of the tourists in the area for the 50th Anniversary UFO Festival, hosted by the Piedmont Area Chamber of Commerce in April 2023, the community joined together to add murals, UFO-themed events and make plans to continue with the annual UFO Festival and parade.

A committee of business owners and residents worked with the city of Piedmont to organize the park, which is located at 220 Legion Park Road.

It was funded by donations from area businesses and residents. The city donated the land where the park is located, provided labor for installation and made sure government regulations were followed.

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