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      Clown controversy continues in Boonville

      The Boonville School Board held a lengthy, closed-session meeting Tuesday to discuss the extent to which employees of the school district were involved in the Missouri State Fair rodeo clown controversy. Boonville Schools Superintendent Mark Ficken served a stint as the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, but resigned in the wake of a rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask in front of crowds.

      The superintendent was not present at Tuesday's meeting.

      The school board is taking the matter seriously - the meeting was closed to the public and lasted about an hour and a half. In the meantime, some local residents feel the matter has gotten out of hand.

      "I think that it got a little bit blown out of proportion... I think a lot of people have thin skin and they take offense to making fun of people," said business owner Carrie Thomas. "I'm not necessarily saying they didn't take it too far, but people have been making fun of presidents for a long time."

      Thomas says she hasn't heard much talk around town from residents about Ficken's actions, but she says he is a good man and that she is sorry he had to resign his position as President of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association.About ninety minutes after they went into closed-session, school board members emerged without a decision. "We have hired an outside consultant to conduct an impartial investigation into the situation that is confronting the Boonville R-1 School District," said School Board President Charles Melkersman. "That is the extent of our comments."

      According to the special meeting minutes document, Dr. James Ritter was hired to perform an investigation of the incident.