RIVER RADIO NEWS 040215
CARUTHERSVILLE TEEN FATALLY INJURED IN SINGLE VEHICLE CRASH
A Caruthersville teen has been fatally injured in a single vehicle crash yesterday.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 19 year old Michael L. Pietrzykowski’s vehicle ran off of Interstate 55, about a mile south of Portageville, striking a ditch and overturning. Pietrzykowski was ejected from the vehicle.
He was not wearing a safety device.
CAPE COUNTY MAN FACING MURDER CHARGE IN DEATH OF STEPDAUGHTER
A Cape Girardeau County man is facing a murder charge after his stepdaughter died of a gunshot wound.
According to authorities, 54 year old Ricky Lee Schweain has been charged with second degree murder and armed criminal action.
Authorities say Schweain and his stepdaughter, Melissa Luttrell, got into an argument last Thursday. Schweain told investigators that he had pointed a pistol at Luttrell. He says Luttrell grabbed the gun, causing it to go off and shoot her in the chest.
Luttrell died on the scene.
Authorities say Schweain then shot himself twice in the chest. He is still being treated for those injuries.
INCENTIVE COULD COST POPLAR BLUFF TAXPAYERS $40,000
(AP) - Taxpayers in Poplar Bluff could pay more than $40,000 for a $1,400 contribution to a civic organization.
The Associated Press reports that the DAR obtained emails showing that all 239 city employees were offered one paid day off if they purchased a $6 ticket to an upcoming Rotary Club Spaghetti Day. The emails indicate the offer was made at the direction of City Manager Heath Kaplan, a Rotary Club member.
Messages seeking comment from Kaplan were not returned.
The average city worker makes $21.89 an hour. The newspaper estimates the cost to taxpayers at more than $40,000 if all workers participate.
City council members say Kaplan told them it was an effort to increase employee morale and engage workers in community events.
FORMER OFFICER FACING CHILD ABUSE CHARGE
A former police officer is facing a child abuse charge in St. Francois County.
Authorities say 38 year old Jay Bellis allegedly threw a four year old child against a wall, causing injury to the child’s ear.
Bellis told investigators that he lost his temper while disciplining the child for misbehaving at daycare.
Bellis is a former member of the Leadwood Police Department.
BURNING TRASH STARTS 20 ACRE FIRE
A fire that started with a spark from some nearby burning trash has burned approximately 20 acres.
Authorities say the fire started around 1:30 yesterday in a field in north Scott City.
Firefighters with seven departments battled the blaze.
EARTHQUAKE NEAR STEELE REGISTERS 4.0
Authorities with the U.S. Geological Survey say an earthquake near Steele last night registered a 4.0 magnitude.
The earthquake occurred shortly before 11 pm.
It was centered approximately two miles south southwest of Steele.
MISSOURI TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT NAMES INTERIM DIRECTOR
(AP) - The Missouri Department of Transportation's chief financial officer has been named interim department director.
The Highways and Transportation Commission on Wednesday appointed Roberta Broeker to take over when current director Dave Nichols retires May 1.
Broeker has been the department's chief financial officer for the past decade. The commission plans to name a permanent director in the fall.
The leadership change comes after the commission in February approved a scaled-back maintenance plan that will keep only one-quarter of Missouri's 32,000 miles of roads in top condition starting in 2017.
DIEHL PROPOSES CHANGES TO HANDLING MISSOURI TRAFFIC FINES
(AP) - Missouri's Republican House speaker is proposing a number of changes to how traffic violations are handled to address concerns raised by the fatal police shooting in Ferguson.
The shooting of black 18 year old Michael Brown by a white officer led to criticism that some cities excessively fine residents to fund their budgets.
House Speaker John Diehl of Town and Country on Wednesday announced proposed changes to prevent that from happening. Those include limiting cities from funding more than 20 percent of their budgets from fines.
Another proposal would require courts to consider a defendant's ability to pay fines and offer alternative payment plans, such as paying online or community service.
The Senate bill now is pending in a House committee. Diehl says he expects it will win approval within days.
MISSOURI HOUSE PANEL SENDS MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL FORWARD
(AP) - Republican support for a medical marijuana law is moving a proposal forward to the full Missouri House.
A House panel Tuesday unanimously approved a Republican-sponsored measure that would allow some Missouri residents with specific illnesses to obtain and use marijuana legally.
Committee Chairman Republican Rep. Caleb Jones, of Columbia, says there are safeguards in the bill to prevent abuse. He says the House should decide on the issue.
Advocates for broader legalization of marijuana say the measure might be too restrictive. They cited concerns with tight limits on the amount patients can obtain, the exclusion of some illnesses and the lack of a home growing allowance for patients.
House Speaker John Diehl says there's a chance the measure could move forward, but he wants to be sure it's fully vetted.
MISSOURI HOUSE INITIALLY OKs PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE IN ENGLISH
(AP) - Supporters say a measure requiring publicly funded schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily in English will encourage unity and pride in the United States.
The Missouri House gave initial approval to the measure Wednesday. Republican Representative Shane Roden is sponsoring the legislation and says the pledge should be in English because that's the official language of Missouri.
He says if the law does not specify the pledge could be recited in Arabic, for example.
A New York high school's decision to recite the pledge in Arabic to promote National Foreign Language Week divided the community and drew national attention last month.
Opponents say students learning English may want to say the pledge in their native language.
The measure faces another vote in the House, possibly this week.
MISSOURI SENATOR PROPOSES LUMP-SUM BUDGET FOR THREE DEPARTMENTS
(AP) - The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman is proposing a plan he says will constrain costs in some of the fastest-growing parts of the state's budget.
Senator Kurt Schaefer recommended Wednesday creating lump-sum grants for most programs in the Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health and Department of Health and Senior Services.
The proposal would make across-the-board cuts - 6 percent or about $100 million to DSS, and a combined 4 percent, about $30 million, for the others.
Schaefer says some programs in those departments have excess spending authority that has previously gone unused.
His proposal exempts some programs from the cuts, including medical care for pregnant women and Medicaid adult dental care. Republicans have criticized Governor Jay Nixon for withholding money from those programs.
The committee has yet to vote on the proposal.
ARKANSAS, INDIANA LAWMAKERS RACE TO UPDATE RELIGION BILL
(AP) - Lawmakers in Arkansas and Indiana are scrambling to revise controversial religious objection measures as Republican governors in both states try to quell a growing backlash from businesses and other critics who have called the proposals anti-gay.
Arkansas House leaders hope to give final approval Thursday to a bill the Senate passed a day earlier to address Governor Asa Hutchinson's concerns.
Hutchinson had initially said he would sign the bill, which prohibits the state and local governments from infringing on a person's religious beliefs without a "compelling" interest. But the governor instead called on lawmakers Wednesday to change the measure to more closely mirror a 1993 federal law.
Legislative leaders in Indiana are also working to change that state's similar recently enacted law at Governor Mike Pence's request.
ARKANSAS LAWMAKERS GIVE FINAL OK TO $5.2 BILLION BUDGET BILL
(AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to a nearly $5.2 billion budget that boosts money for public schools, Medicaid and prisons while cutting most other state agencies' funding by 1 percent.
The House on Wednesday approved by an 82-1 vote the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, which sets spending priorities based on expected revenue. The Senate approved an identical version of the measure by a 29-4 vote.
The proposal calls for restoring a capital gains tax break that was scaled back earlier this year by cutting various grants for various programs, including libraries and community health centers.
Lawmakers also approved legislation to tap the state's surplus for various projects, with the House approving it on a 78-0 vote and the Senate by a 30-0 vote.