Panama Canal expansion could impact Missouri ports

MODOT officials say the widened canal will open more freight shipment opportunities to Missouri.

Franklin School construction proceeds as planned

The $10 million project is being constructed next to the old school. It will open for the 2012 school year.

Dino's Pizza damaged by fire

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department estimates $250,000 in damages, but the building is not a total loss.

Mississippi River Basin nitrate pollution remains high

Nitrates flowing from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico contribute to the formation of areas known as dead zones.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Southeast gears up for family weekend

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Family weekend at Southeast Missouri kicks off today with a showing of “Grease” at the Academic Terrace at 8:30.

Family weekend has many events both on and off campus to keep students and their families entertained.

Allie Wisker, Hall Director of Towers East is helping with the Resident Life wing of the the festivities. She is excited about what this year’s Family Weekend has to offer.

"I think it really shows parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and whoever else comes the kind of atmosphere that their student is a part of and the really great things they can get involved in on campus," Walker said.

There will be games and prizes at the University center and students and their parents will have a chance to meet the University President from 9-10 a.m. in the Beanery cafe.

Bluegrass bands will play at the Fall Festival from 9 a.m. to noon at the Hutson Greenhouse.

Other events on Saturday include The Norman Magic Experience from noon to 1 p.m. in the University Center Ball Room, a Harry Potter Quidditch Tournament at 2 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center, and a Tailgate Party for the football game vs. Eastern Illinois from 4 to 6 p.m. in front of Houck Stadium.

There will be a canned food drive for the victims of the Joplin tornado during both soccer games and the football game occurring over the weekend.

Hannah Parent, KRCU

Nixon urges lawmakers to wrap up special session

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCUR) - Missouri governor Jay Nixon reiterated his push today for lawmakers to wrap up their more than three week Special session that’s cost tax payers more than $100,000 dollars.

"You know it’s just time for the house and senate to resolve their differences and get a fisc responsible bill to my desk, or bring the special session to a close,” the governor said.

Nixon also said he’s taking a double look at the revised social networking bill lawmakers recently passed. It overturns a previously enacted law limiting teacher interaction with students through online forums like Facebook … but lawmakers added a clause to the new bill requiring schools to come up with their own policies on such matters.

"I’m not taking a double look at it to try to figure out when to sign it or not sign it, that’s not releveant, it’s just making sure that having an individual school district do a narrower type of policy is an acceptable alternative here," Nixon said.

Nixon spoke in Kansas City Thursday, touting a new $20 million dollar federal grant the state recently got to bring new health service training opportunities to thousands of underemployed residents throughout the state.

Elana Gordon, KCUR

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SIU labor unions voting on strike authorization

CARBONDALE, IL (WSIU) - Union members on the SIUC campus began a series of votes aimed at deciding whether or not to authorize a strike

The Association of Civil Service Employees approved a strike authorization Tuesday. The Faculty Association approved a strike on Wednesday. Graduate Students United will decide on Friday and the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association early next week.

Jim Clark is with the Illinois Education Association, which represents the four bargaining units. He calls the authorization vote a "tool in the box" used for negotiation... and says leaders are still hoping to avoid an actual walkout.

"I think, if we've waited this long... I think people can understand we've been driven to this tactical approach. It is not by anybody's choice. We've done everything we can to avoid doing the authorization votes, and that strategy has not worked to get an agreement," Clark said.

SIU President Glenn Poshard says he and other administrators are anxious to reach a negotiated deal. He says he's hopeful a new contract can be ironed out - and soon.

"Obviously, everyone wants this resolved. The Administration certainly wants it resolved, just as do employees of this university. We feel that we've made good faith efforts to resolve this over a period of a long time now," Poshard said.

The four unions have worked without a contract for more than a year now... and say administration terms would undermine tenure and restrict academic freedom. Poshard says that's not true, and asserts the bargaining units aren't willing to acknowledge the serious budget problems facing the university.

Jennifer Fuller, WSIU

Redhawks soccer prepares for Eastern Illinois

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Southeast Missouri State University soccer team is home for its first home conference game Friday against Eastern Illinois.

Coach Heather Nelson says it’s a big game. Both teams are coming in with a 2-0 record in conference play.

"I rate them high after getting to see them in our tournament last season," Nelson said about Eastern Illinois "I think they’re a very athletic team. They have a lot of high pressure which will cause our defenders some issues, but having said that I’m also very happy with how well our team is playing. I feel that if we control and play our style of game then we will be able to control the game."

The team had a very difficult non-conference schedule this season that prepared the defense for the teams within the conference.

Overall, the surging Redhawks are 6-2-1.

The Redhawks host Eastern Illinois Friday night at 6:30 pm at Houck Stadium.

Drew Yount, KRCU

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Missouri receives $20M health worker training grant

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCUR) - Missouri has received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train more than four thousand underemployed adults in the health services sector.

Governor Jay Nixon led the effort to bring the funds to the state’s twelve or so community colleges. Deborah Goodall is with Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City and says the grant will help equip adults with high demand health care skills.

"As health care records become digitalized, you need a different type of worker – someone who not only understands medical terminology and health care side, you also need someone who understands IT systems," Goodall said.

Goodall says among other things, the grant will help schools expand their curriculums, create training opportunities that better cater to working adults, and provide residents with academic scholarships.

Elana Gordon, KCUR

Public universities will still accept graduates from unaccredited high schools

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - The Director of the Council on Public Higher Education says public universities are accepting unaccredited high school graduates. But universities may only so temporarily.

After Kansas city schools lost accredidation last week, The Director of the Council on Public Higher Education says students shouldn't worry - yet.

The director, Brian Long, says some public state universities will waive the admission requirement of graduation from an accredited school district for now.

"As long as these high schools continue to work with our state department of elementary and secondary education and regain accreditation, the graduates from those high schools should not be negatively impacted," Long said.

The state universities waived this requirement based on grounds that that school districts will continue to work with the state to improve their status with the Board of Education.

Ashley Massow, Missouri Digital News

Average cost of health insurance premiums doubled over last decade

COLUMBIA, MO (KBIA) - Health care premiums are at a record high. A survey released Tuesday shows the average family is now paying over $15,000 a year on health care premiums.

The rising costs are affecting Missourians as well.

$15,000 per year is more than double what the average family was paying for health insurance a decade ago. This year’s increase in premiums was one of the largest since the Kaiser Family Foundation began the yearly survey in 1999, says the group’s president, Drew Altman.

"I think what’s especially notable this time, is that it comes when wages have been falling in real terms, when wages are not really keeping up with inflation," Altman said.

In Missouri, a relatively high percentage of employers provide health insurance. But Ryan Barker, with the Missouri Foundation for Health, says high costs are changing that.

"That percentage of Missourians with employer insurance has dropped year after year, and so there’s just been this slow decline. It’s been a little bit slower than other states, but I think we’ll continue to see that as health insurance premiums continue to go up."

Nationally, 60 percent of employers offer health insurance.

Jacob Fenston, KBIA

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Commander Premier eviction can proceed

BENTON, MO (KRCU) - Commander Premier Aircraft Corporation was scheduled for a hearing in Scott County Court on Monday.

Once again, representatives from Commander did not show up.

Judge Scott Horman awarded possession of the airport hangar to the city. The city now must wait ten days before physically removing Commander Premier from the property.

Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer says the hearing was a big step towards evicting the bankrupt manufacturer from the city-owned hangar.

"Commander, CPAC, didn’t show up so they had a default judgment which means that they were ready for us to file the paperwork to move toward eviction. Since they defaulted there was no need for a trial then, they signed the order, so now then there’s just some procedural things that we do and then we can execute on eviction," Meyer said.

This is not the first time Commander was a no-show in court. The company failed to send a representative before a bankruptcy judge in Texas earlier this month.

Meyer says all of Commander’s belongings are still in the airport hangar.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Mamtek facing two investigations

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - A Moberly development deal with China-based Mamtek is facing not one, but two investigations.

The Senate's Appropriations Committee chair will join the committee that will investigate a Moberly deal with the artificial sweetener company.

Mamtek promised more than six hundred new jobs in Moberly.

But when Mamtek failed to make a payment on nearly $40 million in bonds, it forced the city to dip into its debt service reserve.

The attorney general and the local prosecuting attorney are also investigating the deal.

Moberly's prosecuting attorney is Mike Fusselman.

"You're looking at the types of representations that were made with people to convince them to part with the money to invest in the project and if the representations were accurately stated or if they were misleading," Fusselman said.

Meanwhile, state legislative leaders say this scandal has undermined Jay Nixon's proposal for a deal with another China company to create an airport cargo hub in St. Louis.

The Senate's top leader, Rob Mayer, announced the Government Accountability Committee's investigation of a deal between the city of Moberly and China-based Mamtek.

Committee chairman Jim Lembke says this shows the legislature it needs to establish more targeted tax credits to prevent this from happening again.

"The legislature has to take a close look at you know current tax credit programs and any new ones we would establish," Lembke said.

The development project was supposed to create more than six hundred new jobs.

Mariel Seidman-Gati, Missouri Digital News

Leadwood names highway after Ferlin Husky

LEADWOOD, MO (KRCU) - A drive through Leadwood, Missouri now means a cruise on Ferlin Husky Highway.

The St. Francois County community renamed a section of highway after the famous country singer and actor on Saturday. Husky grew up in the nearby town of Hickory Grove.

Leadwood mayor John Hartly says Husky played a concert in Leadwood earlier this year at the age of 85.

"We had over 2,000 people that night. Mr. Husky did come. It was just a great time. He met a lot of his friends. We had that for him in January, and two later in March he passed away," Hartly said.

Ferlin Husky is perhaps best known for his songs “Gone” and “Wings of a Dove.”

Mayor Hartly says Leadwood also has a street named after the country music star.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Franklin County completes draft of coal ash landfill regulation; meeting this Friday

LABADIE, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - The Franklin County Board of Commissioners has completed a draft zoning regulation that would open the door for Ameren to build a coal ash landfill in the small Franklin County town of Labadie.

Opportunities for the public to comment on the draft regulation are limited.

As written, the regulation would allow coal ash landfills to be built in Franklin County, with some restrictions.

Patricia Schuba of the Labadie Environmental Organization says she has a number of concerns about the draft.

"There are many questions that are still out there about these regulations, some new things that were added, some things that were deleted, and what we would like is that the public have a chance to comment on this, and that we have a little more time to review it," Schuba said.

Franklin county commissioner Ann Schroeder says the commission will discuss the draft regulation this Friday at 10 a.m. The session will be open to the public.

"But it’s not an open mic session, it’s for us to go through what we have now, and talk about it, and our concerns and likes, dislikes, everything like that. Because we’ve already had the public sessions before this," Schroader said

Schroeder expects the commission to vote on a final regulation within a week or two.

Schuba says people should still express their concerns to the commission by fax, phone or e-mail.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Monday, September 26, 2011

Southeast donates two shuttle buses to Joplin

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University donated two shuttle buses to Joplin Missouri. As Hannah Parent reports, they replaced buses that were destroyed by last May’s tornado.

The tornado last May devastated Joplin in many ways. One of the consequences was the loss of transportation vehicles.

The Missouri Department of Transportation discovered a surplus of two vehicles at Southeast Missouri State University. The university chose to donate them to the tornado-ravaged town.

Mike Hopen, the university’s Director of Transportation, was excited to be part of this charitable act after he saw the devastation first hand.

"I’ve never seen actually seen a tornado of that magnitude or with those damages," Hopen said. "When they talked about it being a mile wide tornado I was a skeptic. Until I saw the mile wide destruction path...made me a believer."

The buses went to a mental health facility in Joplin that lost three buses during the tornado.

Hannah Parent, KRCU

Missouri 911 service in jeopardy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Sixteen Missouri counties have no 911 call centers,and many of those that do are insufficient.

Now, 911 directors are saying the program is in jeopardy without a new funding mechanism.

In Missouri, 911 funding is based solely on taxes taken from land line users. Missouri 911 Directors Association Lisa Schlottach says that the landline tax is not enough to sustain effective 911 service throughout the state especially when emergency personnel need to track down a cell phone user.

Schlottach says the problem is most serious in rural areas.

"We had an instance where a local police officer drive the same route to work everyday and the vehicle was overturned," Schlottach said. "And when she called 911 from her cell phone you know she had no clue where she was. In those areas and a lot of other areas actually in the state they are not going to have that capability."

Schlottach feels that wireless funding legislation is the only way to make it fair to land line users and also to be able to maintain and improve 911 services throughout the state.

"Missouri is the only state that has not passed wireless funding legislation. And there are a lot of states that have been collecting this for over ten years and that have the capabilities of 911 that Missouri does not have," she said.

The proposed amount to be added to state resident's wireless bills is 80 cents. Attempts to pass this bill through state legislation have failed in the past. But the Missouri 911 Directors Association has another bill ready for the 2011 session.

Stoddard County 911 Administrator Carole Moreland is shocked by attempts to roadblock the wireless funding tax.

"We are talking less than a dollar a month on your cell phone bill. I know everyone is taxed to death and they are tired of taxes. And I understand that I am a taxpayer too. But you are talking a dollar versus saving a life here," Moreland said.

The Missouri 911 Directors Association encourages citizens to contact their local legislators about the issue.

Hannah Parent, KRCU

Cairo megaclinic to transform into hospital

CAIRO, IL (KRCU) - Cairo, Illinois is a step closer to having a hospital once again.

Community Health & Emergency Service, Inc. is going to expand its megaclinic in Cairo to include 16 beds and an emergency room. It will also open a diagnostic center.

The project is funded by a three million dollar grant from the state of Illinois.

Fred Bernstein is the CEO of Community Health & Emergency Services. He says this region of southern Illinois has few options for health care.

"The most isolated region is the one that we’re operating in … the two southernmost counties of Alexander and Pulaski, where there’s very little other than what we provide in terms of primary care," Bernstein said.

Bernstein says the project will create approximately 90 new jobs at the hospital.

Cairo mayor Tyrone Coleman hopes the hospital will spur economic development in the struggling community.

"You know businesses, when they come into a community, that’s one of the areas that they look at," Coleman said. "Your medical services, school system, police department, fire department, those kinds of things. We’re just hoping this will bring more than just the hospital itself."

Cairo’s hospital closed in 1986 and a free standing emergency room shut its doors in 1989. The town has not had an emergency service since. The Alexander County ambulance service takes patients forty minutes away to hospitals in Cape Giraredeau and Paducah for emergency service.

Berstein says the clinic is tentatively scheduled to open in the late summer of 2013.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Friday, September 23, 2011

Arne Duncan and Janet Napolitano visit Joplin high school

JOPLIN, MO (KSMU) - High school students in Joplin, Missouri, told US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Thursday that they are passionate about school, despite losing their high school building to a tornado in May.

Business students served Duncan up a cup of joe from their new coffee bar in the makeshift school, which used to be a mall. Each 11th and 12th grader now has a personal laptop, a gift from the United Arab Emirates after the tornado. While touring the facility, Duncan said Joplin’s recovery efforts are stunning.

"I think as Joplin reinvents itself, post the disaster, Joplin can actually help to lead the country to where we need to go educationally," Duncan said.

Duncan called the makeshift school "stunning" and said it reminded him of "a mini-college campus."

Joining Duncan in Joplin was Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.

The May 22 storm that killed 162 people also destroyed or damaged 10 schools in the area.

Jennifer Moore, KSMU

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unemployment down in Southeast Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Unemployment fell in Southeast Missouri during the 2011’s second quarter, as compared to the same time period last year, according to Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Economic and Business Research.

The unemployment rate fell by half a percentage point from 9.6 to 9.1 percent.

Personal income is rebounding, following negative or stagnant rates of change during the recession, according to Southeast Missouri State’s Bruce Domazlicky.

"From our estimates, over the last couple of quarters, income growth is closer to 4, 4 and a half percent, which is about normal. So that’s looking a little bit better. And that’s to be expected with employment being up," Domazlicky said.

Cape Girardeau County’ unemployment ticked upward to 7.3 percent, which is still below the Southeast Missouri and national averages.

Perry County has the lowest unemployment rate in Southeast Missouri at 6.6 percent.

"I think part of it is they have a good industrial base, a good job base," Domazlicky said about Perry County. "They don’t have a real big labor force, and so I think there’s a pretty good balance between the number of jobs that are available and the people that want to work. That has generally kept the unemployment rate very low there."

Despite the modestly good numbers, Domazlicky cautions that Southeast Missouri is not immune to the national economic stagnation and will ultimately follow national trends.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Redhawks volleyball finally comes home

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Southeast Missouri State University women’s volleyball team is off to a slow start this season with a 4-10 record. But a strong start to conference play provides hope for a winning season.

The women’s volleyball team opened their season with a thirteen game road trip, finally playing at home on Tuesday night.

The Redhawks came into the game against conference rival Murray State with a 1-1 conference record.

Despite the slow start, Coach Julie Folliard says different players took the lead each game.

"I think Emily Coon’s doing a great job in the middle, she’s coming alive now. She was picked for the preseason All-OVC team," Folliard said. "Our seniors have really done a great job. Paige Dossey’s played great defensively and Holly Reynolds had a great night last night with her blocking. So I think they’re doing a great job leading us."

Folliard said sophomore Julie Shives had a great night on Tuesday, recording a rare triple-double, with 10 digs, 10 kills and 46 set assists in the 5 set win for the Redhawks.

The Redhawks host Jacksonville State,1-1 in conference, Friday night at 6:30 in Houck Fieldhouse.

Drew Yount, KRCU

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Redhawks look forward to opening OVC schedule

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Southeast Missouri State University football is coming off a tough loss to Purdue on Saturday. But the Redhawks are looking forward to opening up conference this weekend against Tennessee Tech.

Coach Tony Samuel says the team treated the game against Purdue like an NFL preseason game and used it to get as many different guys on the field as possible.

"Right now we’re just working at identifying who our top two units are and using those people in the upcoming game, we won’t use as many people as we have in the past, you know, so far this season, because at this point it’s a lineman assignment technique," Samuel said. "It’s conference play and, you know, we can’t afford to stub our toe."

Samuel says the Ohio Valley Conference is tougher this year than in past seasons.

"We’ve got to go down there and play in a hostel environment," Samuel said. "I think it’s going to be a crowded stadium, and it could possibly be loud. They’ve already won one game in conference and we’re just opening conference play."

Tennessee Tech will be coming into the game with a 1-0 record in OVC play already this year.

Kickoff for the Redhawks' game at Tennessee Tech is Saturday at 7 p.m.

Drew Yount, KRCU

Perryville school installs biomass thermal energy system

PERRYVILLE, MO (KRCU) - Six schools in Southern Missouri will soon operate new biomass thermal energy heating systems.

The Missouri Department of Conservation provides the grants for the Missouri Fuels for Schools project.

Perry County 32 School District received one of the systems. Superintendent Kevin Dunn expects savings between $25 to $30 dollars per year, starting this winter.

"It’s great for the economy for the jobs, but also great for our local school district to have this nice new furnace that’s going to save us money long term but also each year by saving on natural gas and it’s very little expense to the local district almost the entire project was paid by federal grants," Dunn said.

The grant is funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and administrated by the U.S Forest Service.

Missouri Fuels for Schools Project Coordinator Peter Maki says the system’s technology gives the ability to burn wood at efficiencies that are equal to or succeed natural gas efficiencies.

"You have an auger that pulls the wood chips from a chip room onto conveyor and then onto other conveyors and otters that automatically as you call for heat, all this is computer controlled so the chips are then augered into the combuster," Maki said.

This program plans to find funding and continue a Fuel for Schools program throughout Missouri.

Lauren Campbell, KRCU

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Southeast offers student entrepreneurship contest

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is running a competition for Southeast students with a innovative ideas.

The Big Idea Competition offers a thousand dollar prize to the team with the best business plan ... and it's not just for business majors.

There will be twenty finalists from each college that will compete for the grand prize. In addition, each college will have a winner that will receive $200.

The competition administrator, Dr. Joel Bolton, says the competition is centered around the search for students with a great idea, not just business savvy.

"We’ve never done this before. But hopefully it will work out. It will catch on. And we will be doing this years from now," Dr. Bolton said. "Ideally some of these ideas that the students think of might become firms, they might become ventures, they might get funded. They might grow and become household names. It could happen."

The deadline for the contest is Oct. 7 at 3:00 PM. Bolton hopes the contest promotes a zeal for business entrepreneurship amon

Hannah Parent, KRCU

House Committee approves changes to Facebook law

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - The Missouri House Education Committee approved new wording in the Facebook bill on Monday.

The adjusted language clarifies that the state does not restrict student-staff communication on social networking sites. But it does require each school district to develop its own policy.

Columbia Representative Chris Kelly presented the amended bill and says he understands why there was confusion with the old wording.

"You shouldn't write legislation so it can be understood. You should write legislation so it cannot be misunderstood and we did not do that," Kelly said.

But Clay County Representative Myron Neth says too much of the original bill was taken out.

"I think it's leaving open a situation where in one district you're allowing this stuff to happen and in another you aren't," Neth said.

That didn't stop Representative Neth from voting in favor of the bill. The House Education Committee unanimously approved the revised bill and it will now go before the full House.

A spokesperson for Governor Nixon said the governor won't know what he'll do with the bill until it's passed.

Mariel Seidman-Gati, Missouri Digital News

Monday, September 19, 2011

Complete rest necessary for concussions, doctor says

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Concussions require extended periods of rest and limited physical activity in order to recover quickly. But a Cape Girardeau doctor encourages young athletes to also take a mental break.

Dr. Stephen Jordan, a neuropsychologist at St. Francis Medical Center, says any physical or mental stress extends the length of recovery.

"We not only need to keep the kids from participating in sports and over-stressing themselves physically," Dr. Jordan said. "We also need to cut back on their academic demands to let the brain rest from having to think too hard through that period, and finding that balance between not falling too far behind in their classroom but not pushing them too hard either."

Jordan says reducing the amount of time spent in front of a cell phone, computer, television or any other flashing light will help speed up the recovery time.

The typical recovery period can last from a couple days to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the concussion.

Full participation in any activity should not begin until all signs of a headache have disappeared.

Drew Yount, KRCU

River Campus holds open house

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Southeast Missouri State University River Campus hosted an open house previewing some upcoming season events.

A steady stream of people flowed into the River Campus on Saturday for the open house.

Kids could get there faces painted, make origami, and try their hand at various instruments.

The kids weren’t the only ones with entertainment. For the adults, performances ran all day.

Rhonda Weller-Stilson, the Director of the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, says all of the areas of the River Campus, from the museum to the art, music, theater, and dance departments, were represented during the day.

"In all of our performance venues we have something going on," Weller-Stilson said. "As well as locations that don’t normally have performances, so in the museum we have cello ensemble, we have jazz ensemble in the convocation center, we have steel drums on the patio. So there’s something happening all over."

Weller-Stilson says said the River Campus has several first-rate shows lined up for this year.

"We open with Into the Woods, and that will be at the end of September. And then we’re doing the Cab Calloway Orchestra, will be one of the touring events. And then we have the symphony opener that will be happening. And in addition to the big events we have small ensembles and recitals, informal dance concerts and things like that, and those are normally free," she said.

The River Campus’ season officially begins with a production of Into the Woods, which runs from September 28 through October 2.

Drew Yount, KRCU

Cobden hosts Mexican cultural festival

COBDEN, IL (KRCU) - The smell of pozole, tamales and mole filled the air in downtown Cobden while Mexican musicians performed traditional music called pirecuas on stage.

The Purepecha Cultural Festival celebrates the culture and heritage of the Purepecha indigenous people that live in Michoacan, Mexico. Many Purepecha have settled in Cobden over the last thirty years.

Josue Corral is the guitarist and singer for Pinde Kuechua, a traditional band from Michoacan who made a trip to the United States to play at Cobden.

"We’re very happy to be here," Corral says in Spanish. "Especially because the music we play is not commercial. It’s music that has been with us for many generation. Traditional music. It’s a genre from our culture, and we take great pleasure in sharing it in other places."

Gang violence has erupted in and around Michoacan. Organizer Pedro Tomas says the festival is way for Purepecha to connect to traditions at a time when travel Mexico is virtually cut off.

"People stopped travelling," Tomas says. "Nobody is going back. It’s almost like, we want to go, but we don’t know. We don’t know. We’re here. We have videos. We have articles all that, but we don’t know because we haven’t been there. And what they are saying, don’t put yourself at risk until things go back to normal … when is that going to be? We don’t know."

Vendors from St. Louis and Breese, Illinois sold food and artisanry. Purepecha from St. Louis, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana all attended the festival.

It is the second year Cobden has hosted a Purepecha festival.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Friday, September 16, 2011

Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra presents "Symphony Sampler"

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra will present a “Symphony Sampler” this Sunday.

The “Symphony Sampler” will provide a brief, informative and entertaining preview of the upcoming season of symphony orchestra concerts.

Sara Edgerton is the director of the orchestra and program. She says the program is a great family event.

"The symphony sampler is kinda of a short preview concert," Edgerton said. "We will be playing selections of music that will be featured in concerts through the year here ahead at the river campus. The sampler gives audiences a chance to hear a short selection of a variety of the music will be performing in 2011 and 2012."

The audience will have the opportunity to purchase individual or season tickets to the symphony.

The concert will be held in the Shuck Recital Hall at the River Campus. It is free and open to public at two pm.

Lauren Campbell, KRCU

Senators stop state insurance board vote

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - Three senators stopped the vote of a state insurance board over implementing $21 million to set up President Barack Obama's federal health care plan in Missouri.

During a committee meeting Senators discovered that a similar meeting was happening among members of a state insurance board.

The Missouri Health Insurance Pool planned to vote on beginning the implementation process of Obama's health care plan, a process Republican Senator Jim Lembke of St. Louis says he feels cuts Senators out of the process.

"What we asked them to do was just slow down the process, we're trying to work through this in the legislature through hearings and have the opportunity to have discussions with the second floor," Lembke said.

After hearing from the senators behind closed doors, MHIP says it will not vote today.

Stacey Kafka, Missouri Digital News

Coaches learn about injury prevention

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Coaches are in charge of team strategy and they push players to get into good physical shape.

St. Francis Medical Center is training coaches to also guard against injuries.

St. Francis’ sixth annual coaches clinic on Thursday featured speakers Dr. Stephen Jordan, neuropsychologist at St. Francis, and Jason Stinson, a Kentucky football coach charged with reckless homicide after one of his players died of a heat related illness.

Mark Thompson of the marketing department at St. Francis said they wanted to engage the players, parents, and, most importantly, the coaches in the sports medicine program at the hospital.

"We felt that coaches are teachers and if we want to teach the coaches and want them understand what’s in the best interest of the students and to help them be better coaches we probably should start a program like Coaches Clinic," Thompson said.

The coaches were given several hands-on opportunities at the clinic.

They learned the basics of CPR and how to tape ankles, shins, fingers, and turf toe to prevent further injury.

There will be another Coaches Clinic held in the spring.

Drew Yount, KRCU

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Malden airport to receive $110K USDA grant

COLUMBIA, MO (KBIA) - Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced $14 million in new funding Wednesday to help stimulate rural job growth. Small businesses across the country will get money, including a tiny airport in southeast Missouri. 

Malden, Missouri, with just five thousand residents, wants to update its World War II era airport.

Airport manager Barbara Crayne. She says the $110,000 grant from the USDA for renovations will help attract more aircraft.

"We have an air-evac helicopter comes in. We have a lot of crop dusters because we are in an agricultural-based area," Crayne says.

But a she says a retrofitted hangar will attract corporate clients.

"The spinoff in the community is that they’re going in to the restaurants and to the shops, driving in possibly to get their aircraft, so they’re stopping at the gas stations," she says.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack says rural small businesses in particular often have trouble getting credit from commercial banks. These loans and grants are aimed at closing that gap.

"These small businesses will be prepared to have the credit they need to buy equipment that allows them to expand operations, which in turn allows them to hire workers," Vilsack says.

The agriculture department grants and loans will go to 69 recipients in 40 states.

Jacob Fenston, KBIA

Photo courtesy of the City of Malden.

Disaster at Birds Point

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - A short documentary film by the agricultural public relations firm Osborn & Barr looks at the devastation caused by the detonation of the Birds Point-New Madrid.

The film criticizes the Army Corps of Engineers for activating the plan … and for the federal government’s follow-up.

The eleven-minute film “Man Made: Disaster at Birds Point” documents the effects of the flood on floodway farmers and residents of Pinhook.

Neil Caskey worked on the film for Osborn & Barr. He says he was shocked by the federal government’s response following the flood.

"We’re in a situation where our government decided to flood these counties out," Caskey said. "Right now they aren’t doing a whole heck of a lot to make those communities that were affected by their decision whole."

The film was presented in East Prairie last week, but no future screenings are planned in Southeast Missouri. Caskey says he is working to show the film in Washington with Representative Jo Ann Emerson.

The film is online at disaster at birdspoint.com.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Neal Boyd to run for Mo. House


CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Sikeson native Neal Boyd has sung for Presidents, governors and congresspeople. Now the opera-singing winner of the reality TV show “America’s Got Talent” wants to enter the political arena himself. 

Boyd announced his plans to run for the Missouri House of Representatives in the 160th district, which includes parts of Cape Girardeau, Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid counties.

Politics is not foreign to Boyd. He graduated with a degree in political science from Southeast Missouri State University, where he also served as student president.

"You know I had two idols in my life: Luciano Pavarotti and Ronald Reagan. And I wanted to be like both of them. And now here I am. I’ve hopefully made one proud posthumously. I want to make the other one proud posthumously. I never got to meet these men. But I studied them my whole life."

Boyd will run as a Republican to replace Ellen Brandom, who will be term-limited next year. The only other candidate in the race is Republican businesswoman Holly Rahder. No Democrat has entered the race.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Volunteers count chimney swifts at St. Vincent's Catholic Church


CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Department of Conservation hosted a program to help count chimney swifts Tuesday night. 

This event was part of a nationwide research project. It was held at St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau.

This project helps by collecting counts of swifts across the United States. Counts are used to track birds’ migration patterns and keep a record of the chimney swift population.

Bob Gillespe is a natural history biologist for the MDC. He says the birds are declining across their range because of different habitat change. That is why “Swift Night Out” takes place.

"Each year we conduct a swift night out and we come out and monitor chimney swifts populations in different chimneys that they utilize for their migration and basically we’re just getting an assessment of the number of birds using the chimney here at St. Vincents school," he said.

The Department hopes the event helped get people involved and educated about chimney swifts.

Lauren Campbell, KRCU
Photo courtesy of Audubon Minnesota.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Southeast's Special Collections and Archives Center digitilizes Civil War artifacts

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University’s Special Collections and Archives Center wants to document and digitilize the whereabouts of letters, journals, diaries, photos, and other original documents from the Civil War.

The project’s manager is Ellen Ryan. She says documents, artifacts and photos will be digitized and placed onto a website so that educators, the general public, researchers and students have access to these resources.

"A lot of it is to kinda take the information that is out there put it in to one location so it is accessible to people," Ryan says.

Partners include the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center and the Special Collections Research Center at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

The project will be similar to a similar endeavor that is already completed in Springfield, Missouri.

The process started three weeks ago and will continue until mid July of next year.

Lauren Campbell, KRCU

American now know less about health care reform than they did last year

COLUMBIA, MO (KBIA) - Americans now know less about the main provisions of Obama’s health care reform law than they did at the end of last year. That’s according to the latest monthly poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Here in Missouri, a majority continues to oppose the law. Only about 30 percent of Missourians support the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan Barker is Director of Health Policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health. A poll by that group found that despite broad opposition to health care reform, Missourians are supportive of individual components of the law.

"People don’t like the Affordable Care Act, but then when you dig a little deeper people don’t really know what’s in it and how it’s gonna impact them,” Barker says. “We asked questions specifically about, well, do you like tax credits for small businesses, do you like that insurance companies can’t deny care based on preexisting conditions, and those all poll favorable, in the high 70s or low 80s.”

Barker was in Columbia Monday to answer questions about the law’s impact. Eileen Todd was there, and says she doesn’t oppose or support health care reform.

"Right now I don’t have any opinion or knowledge of it. I guess my first concern is how it will affect me personally," Todd said.

Jim Kabler asked how the law would close the so-called “donut hole” – the gap in drug coverage under Medicare.

"I’m a small user of drugs, but I could have to increase it in the next year or two, and the donut hole might be more significant at that time," Kabler said.

Most of the major components of reform go into effect starting in January 2014. I’m Jacob Fenston in Columbia.

Jacob Fenston, KBIA

Redhawks soccer: Shulman steps in leadership role

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - When a freshman steps onto a college campus they immediately want to get to know people so they don’t feel alone.

For freshman athletes, like Erin Shulman of the Southeast Missouri State University soccer team, getting to know people is a requirement as part of the team.

Shulman says there are several things about being on the soccer team that have made her transition into college easier.

"I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all the girls and I think we became close really fast and I really enjoy just being on a team and knowing familiar faces around campus before everyone else got there," Shulman says. "Now it’s just easier it seems."

Shulman has already stepped up as a leader and is currently leading the team with five goals.

She said she feels the pressures of being a leader, but since she has played this role before it is nothing new to her.

The 4-2 Redhawks will travel to Saint Louis on Friday to take on Saint Louis University at 7 p.m.

Drew Yount, KRCU

Monday, September 12, 2011

St. Louis Muslims remember 9-11

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Members of the Muslim community in St. Louis gathered at the grounds of the Gateway Arch Sunday to remember the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks with prayer and service.

Worshippers recited the Islamic afternoon prayer before many participated in the United Way’s day of service doing community clean-up in East St. Louis.

The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of St. Louis, Faizan Syed, helped organize the event.

He says ten years ago, members of his community were blamed for the attacks in Washington and New York even though they had nothing to do with them

"Ten years later we have come here and we have gathered under the shade of the Arch as a way of standing together in a united front, and a way of showing of our unity towards the people and the society that we live in," Syed said.

Other 9-11 ceremonies in the area included a traditional Mass at the Cathedral Basilica, and the display of three thousand flags on Art Hill to commemorate those killed.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Cape Girardeau files papers to evict Commander Premier

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The City of Cape Girardeau has filed court papers to ask for the eviction of Commander Premier Aircraft Corporation from a city-owned hangar.

The papers were mailed to the Scott County Court on Thursday.

Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer says there is still no timeline for when Commander will be out of the hangar.

"It’s still rather complicated whether or not there is a claim of ownership of the equipment by other lien holders and things like that. That is a questions that may speed that up or slow it down. So really it’s still unknown," Meyer said.

Meyer says he expects a hearing to take place within 30 days.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Menards eyes January 2013 for opening date

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Menards is eyeing January 2013 as the opening date for its new store in Cape Girardeau.

The Wisconsin-based hardware store submitted all paperwork to Cape Girardeau city officials, and they have been returned for revisions.

Menards will be the largest retailer to open in Cape Girardeau since both Kohl’s and Sears Grand opened their doors in 2004, according to Cape Girardeau Area Magnet director Mitch Robinson.

"The great thing about this is it’s going to open up a new section of Seimer’s. You’re going to be on the south end. There’s plans for the surrounding property to be developed. That’s going to be exciting to see that opportunity," Robinson said.

Robinson says Menards hopes to build the foundation this fall, but the rest of the construction timeline is still up in the air.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Enrollment grows at Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Enrollment continues to grow at the Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education (CGPHE).

The program is now entering its second year. It’s a partnership between Mineral Area College, Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers Community College.

CGPHE’s Tinea Ortega says enrollment has spiked sharply this semester.

"For fall when we started out, our first number was about 190," Ortega said. "In spring we actually increased, so were about 210 during Spring and summer, we had about 60 for summer and then this fall we have peaked at about 283 students."

CGPHE services ten school districts and provides the first two years of general education programs, mainly students who want to transfer to Southeast.

Its facilities are located at the Cape Girardeau Career & Technology Center.

Lauren Campbell, KRCU

Friday, September 9, 2011

Electric car conversion convention coming to Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - A electric car conversion convention is coming to the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport this month.

The convention will feature sessions on how to convert standard automobiles to all-electric vehicles.

Jack Rickard and Brian Noto are organizing the convention. They converted several high-end cars in their Cape Girardeau garage and they produce a weekly web-based video tutorial that instructs others how to convert their cars.

Jack Rickard says the convention will be similar to their web show.

"Most gatherings are about how electric cars are cool and how they’ll solve the environmental problems. We’re more about how to build an electric car," Rickard. "So we’ve got people coming to go to sessions, to look at and see and learn about some of the components they use to build electric cars."

Noto says they have already converted several automobiles in their Cape Girardeau garage … and the results have been impressive.

"In terms of top speed, all of them are capable of doing over 100 miles hours," Noto says. "The first that we built, our 1957 Speedster replica, will do a quarter mile in 6 and a half seconds, which is about as fast as a Mustang or a Camaro that you buy right now off the show room. And that car will go 130 miles on a charge, which will cost you maybe two bucks in Missouri."

The five-day convention will begin September 21.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Mo. House pushes back presidential primary dates

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - The Missouri House Elections Committe passed bill to push back presidential primary elections.

The bill pushes back the presidential primaries to March. It passed unanimously Thursday in the House Elections Committee hearing.

Republican Representative Jason Duggar who sponsored the bill says he is not concerned with the later election date losing attention for Missouri on the campaign trail. But he is concerned with the ultimatum the national parties have set.

"The national parties have set down these guidelines, and I think we're taking a big chance, you know, on losing half of our delegates... or half our delegates just not being seated. Becuase if that happens, is Missouri going to be considered at all?" Duggar says.

Governor Jay Nixon called for this bill in his special session agenda.

Ashley Massow, Missouri Digital News

Kelly Green takes over as Cape Girardeau Development Services Director

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Cape Girardeau city engineer Kelly Green is the city’s new Development Services Director. Green officially took over the role on September 5.

The position manages economic development and engineering for the city. Green says her goal is to streamline the city’s customer service for developers.

"One way I think that we can do that is start looking at more of a one-stop shop," Green said. "Right now it can be very confusing to developers. They don’t know which division they need to go and talk. And if they would have one location and one person to come and talk to kind of help guide them through the process, I think that would be very helpful for them. And that’s my primary goal."

Green says a developer can be anything from a homeowner who wishes to add a new room … to a big-box retail chain.

The position has been vacant since Ken Eftink resigned last month.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two former St. Louis Blues among victims of Russian plane crash

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Two former players for the St. Louis Blues were killed Wednesday morning when a Russian passenger jet crashed just after take-off.

The plane was carrying members of a Russian professional hockey team, including player Pavol Demitra and assistant coach Igor Korolev.

They were traveling to the capital of Belarus for the first game of a new Russian professional league.

Demitra came to the Blues in 1996 and was consistently one of the team’s top scorers. He made three All-Star teams wearing the Blue Note and won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship in 2000.

Korolev was a second-round pick for the Blues in 1992 and stayed with the team for two seasons. He turned 41 the day before the crash.

In a statement, team president John Davidson called the two "incredibly passionate and dedicated players" whose influence was felt both on the ice and in the St. Louis community.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

McCaskill and Blunt sound off on Obama's jobs speech

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says President Barack Obama will be in a challenging position tonight night as he presents his jobs plan to a joint session of Congress.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, McCaskill said most Missourians want Congress to cut spending, but it will be difficult for the federal government to embark on a giant jobs programs without spending money.

"I’m hopeful the president’s plan will be revenue neutral, in other words, not add in any way to the deficit," McCaskill said. "But be significant enough that it could help in a painfully slow recovery. It’s a recovery, but it’s a painfully slow recovery."

People familiar with the White House deliberations on the jobs package say Obama is considering a plan totaling about $300 billion in tax cuts and spending for 2012.

Two of the biggest measures are expected to be a one-year extension of a Social Security tax cut for workers and a continuation of unemployment benefits. Those items would total about $170 billion dollars.

Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt said neither measure would create a single job.

"The unemployment benefit extension eventually becomes another reason for employers to not create jobs because they have to pay into that fund that was never designed to be a never ending benefit," Blunt said.

Blunt says reducing Social Security taxes for workers only robs future social security recipients. But he says he might be able to support the measures if they are part of a bigger job creation package.

Julie Bierach, St. Louis Public Radio

Education groups and lawmakers reach agreement on Facebook law

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - Missouri lawmakers have compromised with education groups on language in the highly debated Facebook bill.

The Senate Education Committee voted in favor of revisions to the social networking law.

This unanimous approval came after the Missouri State Teachers Association signed on to the approach.

The MSTA previously contested the law restricting all teacher-student communication on social networking sites, like Facebook.

The bill's sponsor, St. Louis County Republican Senator Jane Cunningham, says she has worked with education groups to clarify the language of the bill.

"We are absolutely giving the local district the responsibility to develop their own policy at their local level," Cunningham said.

The bill will go before the full Senate in the 2012 legislative session.

Mariel Seidman-Gati, Missouri Digital News

Missouri Senate debates over China hub

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - The mayor of St. Louis urged lawmakers at the state Capitol to vote in favor of the China cargo hub legislation.

The issue brought St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to the bill's public hearing Wednesday night.

Slay urged lawmakers to vote for tax breaks that would be used to promote an international cargo hub at Lambert Airport.

"If this works, and it may not, but if this works it could create thousands of jobs," Slay said.

But critics of the bill say having this cargo hub would actually send job oversees.

Elizabeth Hagedorn, Missouri Digital News

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Missouri general revenue up in August

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KRCU) - Missouri general revenue is up by 4.2 percent more than it was at this time last fiscal year.

Likewise, August collections were up by nearly 7% as compared to August of last year.

Most of the increase can be attributed to strong sales tax figures, which increased by more than 9 and a half percent last month.

But State Budget Director Linda Luebbering cautions that the August number bring a worrisome trend.

"The biggest concern for the August revenue report were the individual income tax collections. If you look at August of the current fiscal year compared to August of last fiscal year, we actually collected less individual income tax collections than we did last year," Luebbering says.

Individual income tax collections make up the largest source of revenue for Missouri.

Luebbering says this decrease could be attributed to bad timing … or it could be a symptom of the global economic downturn.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Crowell adamantly against special session

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - Republican Senator Crowell made it very clear during Tuesday's special session four hour debate that he had no problem ignoring Governor Nixon.

Crowell's animated antics sparked a historical special session debate the capitol has not seen in many years.

The senator expressed his adamant opposition of Governor Nixon's legislative maneuvering.

"The governor's not my dad and I don't live under his rules," Crowell said. "This is crazy! This is unbelievable! We have never had a governor try to tell on such a micro-level what the senate can do on such a variety of topics."

Crowell stressed democracy cannot be micromanaged and it is repugnant to the state's very ideals to do so.

He was also worried the governor's actions might turn Missouri into a monarchy.

Jessi Turnune, Missouri Digital News

Fourteen people die in Labor Day road and water accidents

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - Fourteen people died in roadway and waterway accidents during the Labor Day weekend.

The Missouri highway and water patrol divisions said the number of deaths equaled last year's Labor Day weekend.

Spokesperson for the water patrol, Gerard Callahan, said four people died on Missouri waterways alone.

"Four fatalities in a weekend, it's what we saw last labor day. It's not unusual, but it's higher than what we would like to see. We'd like to see a fatality-free weekend every holiday weekend," Callahan said.

Ten others died in car crashes.

Both the water patrol and highway patrol spokespeople say they felt increased visibility prevented some accidents during the holiday weekend.

Stacey Kafka, Missouri Digital News

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fall enrollment at MAC should reach 4,000

PARK HILLS, MO (KRCU) - Enrollment at Mineral Area College this fall is set to stay on course with numbers the college had last year.

So far, nearly 3,700 students are enrolled at MAC. That number is expected to increase to 4,000 after more dual-credit students enroll and when second eight-week classes begin.

Jean Merrill-Doss is Mineral Area College’s Dean of Student Services. She says the last few years have brought some of the highest enrollment numbers in Mineral Area’s history.

"There’s that magic trend when the economy goes south, enrollment goes north," Merrill-Doss says. "With education, because more people come back and try to get additional training when they can’t find jobs, so they go to college, and there’s lot of training money available. A lot of young students, coming out of high school, with the economy in bad shape, may end up coming to a community college rather than a four-year school because of costs.”

Merrill-Doss says there has been a strong uptick towards short-term technical training, such as their truck driver school.

The College will have more detailed demographic data about their Fall 2011 students within the next couple of weeks.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Cool temperatures, occasional showers expected this week

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The heat and humidity rapidly disappeared throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois, leaving us with cool temperatures and a much more pleasant forecast this week.

Meteorologist Ryan Presley with the National Weather Service in Paducah says we can expect high temperatures in the 70’s all week.

The only item of note, Presley says, is Tropical Storm Lee. The storm will begin to make its presence felt in the Midwest.

"As we head towards Wednesday, Thursday and especially late Thursday and into Friday, the remnants of Lee will begin to retrograde back to the west towards the mid-Mississippi River Valley," Presley says. "As it does so, the moisture associated will lead to an increase in cloud cover and the potential for some spotty shower activity."

Presley does not anticipate any day-long rainfall or strong storms. He adds all communities will not be affected uniformly by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Dance professor pens two new books

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Theater and Dance Professor Marc Strauss has two new books coming out this Spring. Strauss’ books will be integrated into the dance program at the River Campus.

Strauss’ book Looking at Compensatory Dance: A Guide to the Internet Age examines the role the Internet plays in critiquing and understanding modern dance. Strauss was taken with how much the computer age has influenced contemporary dance. In his book he hopes to create a guide on how to utilize these sources in a practical way.

"There are innumerable dance videos available for anyone to watch now. So It made a lot of sense to me to actually use you tube videos and analyze them," Strauss says.

In addition, Strauss collaborated with esteemed dance professor Myron Howard Nadel on the third edition of The Dance Epxerience. Nadel is the author of the first two editions.

Hannah Parent, KRCU

Monday, September 5, 2011

Missouri immunization rate improves

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Missouri is doing a better job of getting toddlers vaccinated for childhood diseases.

Results of the CDC’s National Immunization Survey show Missouri rose from last in the rankings in 2009 up to 39th last year.

About 68 percent of children under age 3 are getting all the required vaccinations. Neighboring Illinois remained at just above the national average, with 75 percent.

Missouri health department director Margaret Donnelly attributes the improvement to stricter legislation and increased efforts to help parents keep track of vaccination schedules.

And she says cost should not keep parents from getting their children vaccinated.

"Even if you do not have insurance that covers immunizations, there are programs available where your child can get the vaccine at little or no cost," Donnelly says.

Donnelly urges parents to contact their healthcare provider or local public health agency to schedule an immunization appointment.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

I-70 is major drug transportation link

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MISSOURI DIGITAL NEWS) - A highway patrolman says more and more drugs are being transported across Missouri.

His comments come on the heels of a major drug bust last Wednesday on Interstate 70.

At a traffic stop near the 142-mile marker on I-70 last Wednesday, a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer conducted a K-9 search that revealed 132 pounds of marijuana.

Sergeant Paul Reinsch says I-70 offers a route from coast to coast for drug trafficking.

"I-70 definitely is a pipeline, obviously right through the middle of the country from east to west and drugs of all kinds are traveling up and down our highways everyday," Reinsh said. "I'm not sure exactly where this load was intended to go. He was intending to distribute it and sell it at a certain point, but at this time I don't know where he intended it to go."

Reinsch also says marijuana is not the only drug being moved across the nation through Missouri, but drugs such as cocaine and heroin are also commonly transported using I-70.

Alex Goldman, Missouri Digital News

Southeast student darts rhinos for internship

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University student Hollie Lybarger traveled to South Africa this summer as an intern for Madikwe Game Reserve.

The internship consists of things such as learning methods of protecting vulnerable species, helping with predator work, tracking jackals and clearing invasive bush species.

Lybarger says she also worked as part of a rhino tagging team.

"We actually tracked down both black and white rhino and darted them and we took blood samples, hair samples, tissue samples, we also drilled a tracking device in side the horn and then notched their ears for identification and awareness purposes," Lybarger said.

The tracking devices are used to prevent poaching.

Lybarger says this internship has taught her about land preservation and wildlife management as well as educating the public about such issues.

She is considering graduate school and plans to use her degree in land management.

Lauren Campbell, KRCU

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blunt visits floodway, meets with Corps, farmers

CHARLESTON, MO (KRCU) - Army Corps of Engineers officials and Mississippi County farmers met with Senator Roy Blunt Thursday to discuss the restoration of the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway.

The Corps is currently building a temporary levee to 51 feet - more than eleven feet lower than the original levee that was detonated in May to relieve massive flooding on the Mississippi River.

Senator Blunt visited the 170 thousand acre floodway and wants the federal government to fulfill its obligation to Southeast Missouri farmers.

"Hopefully we’re going to reach a good common sense solution here that does what the federal government is now required to do, which is to restore the protection level to where it was before the Corps exercised the half of the plan that takes it down," Blunt said. "The other half of the plan is you have to put it back up."

Blunt says Washington must meet its obligations in Mississippi County. He added that he requested a study to investigate if some federally-declared disasters are only declared as such for political reasons.

"I believe that the federal government has to step in, and has long been committed to step in, in areas where the federal government decides to create the problem," Blunt said. "And such as the federal levees or the federal flood plan, all of that that has been the responsibility of the federal government for a long time."

Farmers argued the Corps ignores local input. Many urged the Corps to rebuild the levee to its original 62-and-a-half feet and to include a concrete spillway at 60 feet.

Mississippi County Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett called the spillway approach a common sense solution that would save taxpayer money and provide floodway farmers with equal protection.

"That way you get natural overtopping," Bennett said. "You would get quite a bit of water coming in to the system when needed, when the river needs relief. But the second the river no longer needed the relief the water would stop dumping in because it would drop down below the level of that concrete spillway."

Bennett says the spillway option is the consensus choice for Mississippi County farmers.

Ed Marshall farms the floodway and is the president of Levee District Number 3. He's onboard with the spillway option.

"I think that’s a whole lot better deal than putting dynamite in a levee that you blow up and it costs 35 million dollars to put the levee back," Marshall said. "Not to mention the dirt, the farmers, the roads, the infrastructure, everything that is completely demolished. You know, I think it’s crazy."

Corps officials say the spillway plan is under consideration. They say the levee will be rebuilt to its original 62 feet when adequate funding is released. The temporary levee will be complete by November 16.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Cape Girardeau businesses gain from winning teams

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - It’s no secret college athletics can supply an injection of money into the local economy. And that’s especially true when the teams are winning.

Downtown businesses are anxiously awaiting this weekend’s football home opener between Southeast Missouri State University and Southern Illinois University.

Chuck Martin, Executive Director of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, says certain events, like homecoming and family weekend, tend to draw bigger crowds.

"Certainly we see a big uptick in the amount of people that are staying in our hotels, eating in the restaurants, filling their tanks at our gas stations, and shopping at our shops," Martin says. "So there is a very direct correlation, with those bigger events, especially."

Martin says certain rivalries, such as Murray State or SIU, can generate more revenue because they bring a bigger fan base.

However, this spike in fans only helps certain businesses because fans from schools like Southern Illinois do not stay in hotels.

Drew Yount, KRCU

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - The same weather system that brought almost three weeks of dangerous heat to the St. Louis region in July is causing record-setting temperatures this week as well.

But relief is on the way.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Britt says the large area of high pressure that’s been sitting over the southern United States for most of the summer will occasionally expand.

When that happens, the heat that’s been blistering Texas for months creeps into the Midwest.

But Britt says because we’re a few weeks closer to fall, this current heat wave won’t stick around as long.

"We’re starting to see a little stronger storm systems move around the ridge of high pressure and so that allows cold fronts to stay through Missouri and Illinois for a bit longer than they did earlier," Britt said.

Britt says longer-range models show below-normal temperatures for most of September, though he says a few hot days are still possible.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Big Oak Tree State Park and Towosahgy State Historic Site to re-open

EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KRCU) - Big Oak Tree State Park and Towosahgy State Historic Site will both re-open this weekend.

Both areas are located near East Prairie. They were closed following the Birds Point levee breach and inundated by 12 to 16 feet of water and sand.

Starting this weekend, visitors will be able to access Big Oak Tree State Park’s main day-use area and hike on the boardwalk.

Bill Bryan is the director of Missouri State Parks. He says most of the park is in good condition, but he has concerns about sections of the park that are off the beaten path.

"There’s about 100 acres in the park that has a significant amount of sand and sediment on it that washed in with the floodwaters that really threaten the really large, mature, spectacular pecan and oak trees," Bryan says.

The 100 acres in question equate to about 10% of the park.

Bryan says the visitor’s center will have to be demolished. FEMA will help cover the costs for a significant amount of the park’s damages.

Towosahgy State Historic Site is a Mississippian culture village site near East Prairie. State Parks Director Bill Bryan says there is evidence that over 250 people inhabited Towosahgy more than one thousand years ago.

"That site weathered the flood pretty well," Bryan said. "We didn’t have any damage to the cultural site itself. We did lose some of our interpretive panels and our interpretive kiosk and restroom facility. So we’re going to have to do some rebuilding there. But the good news is the historic and cultural assets are intact."

Big Oak Tree State Park is re-opening in time for its annual “Living History Day” on September 10.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

McCaskill on waste in Iraq and Afghanistan

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCUR) - An investigation published Wednesday, figures that at least 30 billion, but probably 60 billion dollars, have been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator Clair McCaskill thinks those figures are low, but she says it’s not going to be easy to cut the waste, fraud and abuse.

McCaskill, a Democrat, says contractors have a lot to do with the losses. They’ve become an enormous part of the defense effort, especially overseas, and one that she says they aren’t well regulated, not at all.

The Wartime Contracting Commission agrees, and suggests more than a dozen ways tighten scrutiny on contractors, weed out the careless, and criminals … and save billions a year.

 But McCaskill says some powerful companies will likely go to war over those reforms.

"These are very profitable corporations, that have relied, extensively in terms of their bottom line, on sloppy contracting procedures, that have been embraced by the Department of Defense, the Department of State and USAID," the Senator from Missouri said.

It isn’t just contractors. The report shows that project selection has caused a lot of the waste in Iraq and Afghanistan. Things like power plants that, once built, are not maintained.

Frank Morris, KCUR

Lady Redhawks soccer team look to improve on so-so start

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Southeast Missouri State University women’s soccer team has started their season 2-2, but they’re looking to improve as the season continues.

After a number two finish last season and a heartbreaking loss in the semi-finals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, the women’s soccer team is hoping to continue their dominance on the soccer pitch this season.

They are ranked second in the OVC in preseason polls, but are on track to finish higher.

Coach Heather Nelson says the team has several returning players who will help lead the team.

"In midfield we have, I think, one of the best players in the OVC back, and that’s Vanessa Hart," Nelson says. "She’s a nice holding center midfielder, she can buy time for the forwards to make runs, but she can also play quickly and she’s also an attacking threat herself."

Nelson says returning players are a strong part of the team, and some new faces are making an impact.

"We’ve been able to create a lot of offense, probably the most that we’ve actually done in years with this program. That’s a credit to some of our newcomers that have definitely shown to be threats, Jessie Crabtree, transfer from the University of Missouri, and also Erin Shulman, a freshman of the Springfield, Illinois area," coach Nelson said.

The lady Redhawks will face off at Evansville on September 2.

Drew Yount, KRCU