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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ed Martin runs for Senate

Fresh on the heels of his failed bid for U.S. Congress, St. Louis Republican Ed Martin has announced his candidacy for Senate.

Martin made the announcement via YouTube video on Monday.

So far Martin and former-Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman have announced their intent to run, and there is speculation that others may join the race.

Martin says he feels that primaries are a healthy process and need not hurt the Republican Party.

"I think it will be great," Martin said. "I mean, the hard part is when competition damages people and gives people false impressions. But, I’m confident that we can talk about the central issue—size, scope and cost of the federal government."

In a statement, Martin highlighted Senator Claire McCaskill’s support of the bank bailouts and President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

Road crews brace for massive winter storm


Road crews across Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois are on stand-by, in anticipation of the massive winter storm that is expected to cover much of the Midwest in snow and ice.

In Perryville, the city's three salt trucks and eight plows are fueled up and ready to treat the city's 52 miles of road.

Superintendent of public works Dave Clements says that his crew of 35 people can plow the city streets in 12 to 15 hours. Dealing with the ice is a treacherous task, but Clements also warns that snow is a difficult challenge for his road crews.

"Where do you put 10 or 12 inches of snow?" Clements rhetorically asks. "Plowing a street is one thing, but what do you do with all the snow you get in front of the plow when you get to the end of the street?"

Perryville's road crew will start working on the streets as soon as the storm starts.

In Farmington, street supervisor Terry Ferguson makes sure all of his fleet's trucks and chainsaws are in order. The city contracts local companies to help with tree limbs and other debris.

Ferguson says that his crew doesn't lay down salt or any materials prior to a storm. The city's primary snow routes can typically be cleared within a couple of hours.

Ferguson doesn't worry so much about the 4 inches of snow that's predicted to fall on Farmington and the surrounding region. He is more concerned about the anticipated inch of ice.

"Everybody talks about having snow plows. That doesn't touch the ice," Ferguson says.

"We have to back up a lot of our streets with any kind of a grade on them. You have to back them and spread the abrasive out so we can even go anywhere. It's just treacherous. You can't stomp on it or anything. Those heavy trucks are hard to handle in that ice."

The city of Farmington will have 16 or 17 employees tackling the ice and snow on its 200 miles of streets. An additional 15 to 20 workers will clear limb breakage.



Jacob McCleland, KRCU
Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.

The Arrow to celebrate 100th anniversary

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University’s student newspaper, The Arrow, will celebrate its 100thanniversary tomorrow.
The Arrow published its first issue on February 1, 1911, after students voiced their need to have a campus paper during an assembly led by Clyde Harbison, who would become the first editor. 
The Arrow has always been run by students, something current editor Dan Fox believes is vital. 
"I think having a student perspective on news, national or local is incredibly important," Fox says. "The fact that we are not beholden to any department besides ourselves I think is important."
The Arrow has a long tradition of covering not only campus and world news, but also being a forum for students to discuss their concerns about the university.
In the early 1940’s, editor Charles Black used The Arrow to help create a more efficient student government and even called for the word “Teacher’s” to be dropped from the school name. The name change was supported by the Board of Regents and later signed by the governor of Missouri.
Over the years the paper has won numerous awards on both state and national levels.
The anniversary issue will be available on Thursday with a four page special edition to commemorate the achievement.
Matt Caldwell, KRCU

Coalition asking EPA for more time to evaluate cleanup options for Carter Carburetor Superfund Site

ST. LOUIS, MO (KWMU) - A coalition of St. Louis City residents is asking the Environmental Protection Agency for more time to evaluate cleanup options for the Carter Carburetor Superfund Site on the city's north side.

The former gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant once owned by ACF Industries has dangerous levels of several toxic contaminants, including PCBs and asbestos.

Environmental justice advocate Romona Taylor Williams says she and other north side residents have asked EPA to provide an independent contractor to help them interpret the more than 600 page technical report about the site.

"The independent contractor would provide the community with the scientific technical assistance that we need in order to evaluate, and to empower ourselves with the proper information to effectively comment," Taylor Williams says.

According to an EPA statement, agency representatives met with area residents earlier this week and intend to provide more information in response to their questions.

Monday is the official deadline for the public to comment on the report, but EPA said it will continue to accept input after that date.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has highest black homicide victim rate in U.S.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Missouri has the highest black homicide victim rate in the country, according to an annual study conducted by the Violence Policy Center. 
Missouri had 40 black victims per 100,000 blacks. Pennsylvania came in second with 31 per 100,000. 

St. Louis had 156 black homicides, 54 percent of the black homicides committed in Missouri.
  
In Missouri, 75 percent of the people knew their killer and 80 percent of the dead had had an argument with their killer.

The VPC study found that firearms, especially handguns, were a large factor in the homicides.

According to Josh Sugar​mann, executive director of the VPC and co-author of the study, Missouri ranked so high because individual cities cannot pass laws that are stricter than the state standard.
 
"Most black homicide victims, like most homicide victims, are killed with firearms," Sugarmann says. "Usually it's a handgun. So it's not so much purely an issue of criminal justice, but really the tools available when people get into arguments or employ a weapon against one another that leads to homicide."

Missouri usually has one of the highest black homicide rates in the country.This year was the first time since 2008 that Missouri was number one.


Rachel Weatherford

Fruitland quarry decision may come on February 7

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Land Reclamation Commission will meet in a closed session on February 7 to decide if two mining company can operate quarries in Fruitland.
Residents of Fruitland have reacted strongly against the quarries, which would be located near Saxony Lutheran School. Over 30 citizens spoke in front the commission last week at a hearing in Jefferson City. Representatives from Heartland Materials and Strack Excavating outlined their proposals.
State Representative Donna Lichtenegger has been actively campaigning to keep the quarries out of Fruitland. She says that residents of the small Cape Girardeau county community have been longing for a chance to speak openly with the mine operators.
"So far, from what I understand, the folks of Fruitland have not had that. They are really looking forward to this," Lichtenegger says. 
Lichtenegger introduced a bill in the State House that would give the Missouri Land Reclamation Commission the ability to deny a mining permit if the proposed site is located within one mile of a school, child care center, church, nursing home, public building, or cemetery.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Friday, January 28, 2011

Land Reclamation Commission postpones decision on Fruitland quarries

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Land Reclamation Commission reached a no decision on Thursday regarding the fate of two quarries proposed for Fruitland.

The Commission heard an entire day of testimony from nearly 30 people concerning the quarries. Testimony was heard from both sides regarding concerns about the two quarries and their proximity to Saxony Lutheran High School and residential areas in Fruitland. Citizens from the area brought up health concerns regarding dust from the quarries and the potential impact it would have on the high school and community.

The Commission will reconvene today in a closed session in order to decide whether or not to grant formal hearings regarding the two quarry permit proposals. A formal hearing would mean more in-depth testimony in front of an independent hearing officer who would deliver a final recommendation on the permit proposals to the Land Reclamation Commission.

A decision could be reached as early as Friday.



Katie Long

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Forty-six Kentucky elk to be relocated to eastern Ozarks




CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Department of Conservation has captured forty-six Kentucky elk that will be used as the initial population of a restoration project in the eastern Ozarks.

The Department of Conservation's Joe Jerek says that the group consists entirely of cows and immature males.

"We didn't want to capture mature bull elk," Jerek explains. "They are far too strong to work with safely, and they would need to be sedated and whenever you sedate a big bull like that it really adds stress and risk to the animal."

The elk will be in quarantine in Kentucky for 90 days. They will be treated for parasites and tested for diseases such as chronic wasting disease and brucellosis.

Once brought to Missouri, they will be held in a holding pen for six weeks. After release, biologists will monitor their health by radio collar.



Jacob McCleland
Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.

Senators McCaskill and Blunt respond to State of the Union

Senator Claire McCaskill reacted to the President's State of the Union address by stating that she will be willing to work with Republicans towards a more accessible health care plan for those in the private sector. She predicts that by bringing more people into the health care pool, health care costs will go down without adding to the nation's defecit.

"I am perfectly willing to change anything in the bill that will accomplish the goal, which is maintaining a private sector insurance market in this country, not a government program, making sure that insurance is accessible and affordable and that we can bring down healthcare costs, and not increase the deficit," McCaskill says.

She states that ceasing to spend federal dollars on earmarks will allow for wiser spending in the future.

McCaskill, a Democratic Senator from Missouri, was critical of the President's spending cap. Next week, she will introduce legislation with Republican Senator Bob Corker that furthers the federal freeze on subsidies to U.S. industries.

Meanwhile, Missouri's new Republican Senator, Roy Blunt, says that Mr. Obama's speech did not connect with the moment, nor with the people.

He agrees with McCaskill that earmarks are one way to cut government spending. But Blunt also thinks that all options should be on the table, including defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Blunt supports the balanced-budget amendment championed by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch. The amendment would establish a spending limit of 20% of the country's GDP.

"We've been right in the neighborhood of 20% of GDP until the last two years. And now we're spending more like a quarter of GDP and we're collecting about 18%," Blunt says.

Blunt reiterated his belief that divided government brings an opportunity to solve big problems, and that he thinks that we are on the cusp of a legislative year devoid of earmarks.



Jacob McCleland and Danny Rohr, KRCU

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Riverdance wows crowd at Show-Me Center





CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Irish songs and dances were put on display Tuesday night at Southeast Missouri State University's Show Me Center. Riverdance culminated in an explosion of beautiful vocals, excellent musicianship, and intricate Irish movement.

Melissa Lincoln and her daughter Beth were in attendance. Beth enjoyed the dancing and Melissa appreciated the culture. 

"My favorite part was when the girl in the orange dress was dancing around by the sun. It was really cool," Beth says.

"It was a very nice experience seeing how the culture changed over time," her mother Melissa says. "The dances that they brought it would have new pieces, new information, new elements into their routines and their tap. They changed the way they did things, but were able to keep a lot of the core elements alive."
Riverdance was an astonishing performance, as well as a history lesson. It even included a comic bit where jazz and classic tap competed against traditional Irish tap to win the crowds approval.



Ryan Paluckak, KRCU
Photo courtesy of riverdance.com

Willie Nelson to return to Cape Girardeau



County singer Willie Nelson will return to the Show-Me Center on March 15.

Nelson last played at the venue in 2006 in front of 2800 loyal fans.

Show-Me Center marketing director Shannon Buford says that he is personally excited about the Nelson show because he is one of his all-time favorite artists.

"He's one of those people that his name has become the standard," Buford says. "If you're talking any kind of music,  and somebody just brings up 'Willie,' they don't even have to finish his name. Everybody knows its Willie Nelson."

3900 seats will be available for the concert. 


Photo courtesy of willienelson.com.

Community college presidents vow to keep tuition hikes below $5 per hour

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Community college presidents came to an agreement to ask their boards of trustees to keep tuition increases at $5 or below per credit hour for the upcoming academic year. The boards of trustees make the final decision regarding tuition increases. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
The Mineral Area College board of trustees had held back some money in anticipation of the reduction to keep the cost affordable for their students. 
Mineral Area College president Steven Kurtz says that the agreement will not affect his school's plans to make ends meet in the upcoming academic year.  
“Even before the Missouri community colleges {agreement}, we weren’t looking at more than a $5 increase anyway," Kurtz says. "We’re just in such a great position that we didn’t want to affect the quality of our programs.”   
The community college agreement arrives on the heels of Governor Jay Nixon’s announcement that higher education funding would only be cut by 7 percent, when more drastic reductions were widely anticipated. 


Rachel Weatherford

Cape Council accepts Isle of Capri project plan, recommends Cape Air

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Cape Girardeau City Council voted unanimously yesterday to accept Phase I of Isle of Capri Casino’s final development plan.

Phase I will include the construction of the casino and the relocation of Main Street, which will now connect with Spanish Street.

Foundations for a hotel will also be built, but the hotel, which will be built on top of the casino, will not come along until the casino owners decide it is needed.

The council also voted to transfer control of six city blocks to the casino.

In other business, the city council passed a motion to allow city officials to begin contract negotiations with Cape Air, the current air service provider for the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.
  
Airport Manager Bruce Loy spared few words in his praise for Cape Air. 


"Their customer service has been wonderful. Their on-time performance has been great. Their completion rate - meaning they meet all their flights that they schedule - they fly over 99% of those flights," Loy says. "So it's been a wonderful experience. And our passenger boardings have been up this year." 

Cape Air has also proposed installing a city ticket office in Cape Girardeau. 

Currently Cape Air offers four daily flights, but with new the casino being built he believes that should be increased to six daily flights.


Matthew Caldwell, KRCU

Mountain lion sightings on the rise in Missouri

MARYVILLE, MO (KXCV) - The weekend shooting of a mountain lion near La Plata in northeast Missouri is the fourth confirmed sighting in the state since November. 
Joe Jerek with the Missouri Department of Conservation says there have only been 14 confirmed sightings in Missouri in the last 16 years. But he says it’s not surprising the rash of recent reports are coming this winter.
"These all appear to be young males. So young male mountain lions tend to go in search of new territories at about 18 months of age. Now that happens usually during their second fall and winter, which is this time of year," Jerek says.
"So that’s one reason we may be seeing this. Another reason is we’ve had a number of recent sightings really along and stemming out from the Missouri River so it’s very probable and at least possible that these mountain lions are coming in from the west and traveling along the river corridor and moving largely undetected across the state.”
The Missouri Department of Conservation has even assembled a Mountain Lion Response Team to investigate sightings or killings of mountain lions in the state.  


Kirk Wayman, KXCVM

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dickerson no longer CEO of Hometown Innovation Team

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Hometown Innovation Team's new CEO says that the proposed Watch Me Smile dental and vision center will continue as planned.

Angie Kapp took over as CEO following the departure of Weaver Dickerson on December 29, who created a maelstrom of controversy after if was discovered that he was on probation for writing bad checks.

Despite this speed bump, Kapp says the company intends to continue with plans. "It has a lot of great benefits for Cape Girardeau and the surrounding areas. So we do move plan to move forward," Kapp says. 
  
It is not clear if Dickerson resigned or was fired. Dickerson lied on application materials for Community Development Block Program loans and Quality Job Tax Credits from the state. He falsely stated that nobody on the company's board was on probation. 
  
The state of Missouri offered $750,000 in low-interest loans and $1.3 dollars in tax credits for the start-up. The state quickly rescinded the economic assistance following the discovery of Dickerson's legal history. 

Kapp points out that the $1.3 million in tax credits would not even be in play until the first 20 new jobs were created, and that the $750 thousand in state loans would have to be paid back.


Jacob McCleland

Habitat for Humanity breaks ground for new Cape Girardeau home

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Cape Girardeau chapter of Habitat for Humanity held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday for the construction of a house for a local family. Several volunteers, students, and members of Habitat for Humanity were in attendance at the event.


Jessica Cooper, the president of Habitat For Humanity's Cape Girardeau chapter, says that "Habitat For Humanity helps families who probably wouldn't be able to get a loan from a bank. We build a house at a more affordable cost for them, and they don't get the house for free, a lot of people get that confused. Their saying is 'It's not a hand out, it's a hand up.'"

The amount of time it takes to complete the house depends on the number of volunteers willing to help out. Habitat for Humanity will continue to accept those who wish to give their time and effort.


Daniel Rohr

Southeast HEALTH continues electronic records integration, expects changes to federal law

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast HEALTH CEO Debbie Linnes says that legislative action to repeal the healthcare overhaul law complicates long-term planning for health care providers.
  
However, she believes that there is not enough support at the federal level for a full repeal.    

"But I would anticipate that we will see changes possibly in how certain components of the program are structured, or funded, or administered," Linnes says. 


"At the end of the day we still have to better integrate our clinical services at a lower cost platform and improve the quality outcomes for our health care consumer nationally."   
  
Linnes says that Southeast HEALTH will continue plans to increase electronic medical records at a regional level in order to improve efficiency regardless of Congressional action. 

Congress voted to repeal the federal health care overhaul law. The Missouri state Senate passed a resolution urging Missouri's Attorney General to join already existing lawsuits against the federal health care overhaul law. There are several constitutional challenges to the law, including one by Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. 


Jacob McCleland

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"The Mikado" tells bizarre and witty love tale




CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Gilbert and Sullivan specialist Frederick Reeder put on a wacky spectacle this weekend in the form of the comic opera The Mikado.


The show opened on Saturday night in front of a packed house at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus.


The Mikado is a 19th century British satire set within Japanese culture. It was updated to include modern humor within the traditional musical scores.


Ryan Janik from Festus checked out the operetta. He says it was an entertaining way to spend the evening.


"I​ think that if the number would have been left as they were written in 1865, perhaps we wouldn't have understand as much and the jokes wouldn't have been as funny," Janik says. "I really enjoyed the show. I would definately recommend it anytime anybody can see it."


The "light-opera" is filled with tremendous voices, eccentric humor, and a bizarre turn of events. The tale starts when Nanki-Poo abandons his father's court to escape an arranged marriage. He falls in love and conquers every obstacle, including a ridiculous love triangle.



Ryan Paluckak, KRCU
Photo courtesy of Seidel Artists Management