November 1, 2014

Twenty counties declared disaster areas

Twenty north Missouri counties hit by big storms September 9th and 10th have bee declared federal major disaster areas. The declaration will help counties recover from high straight-line winds and more than nine inches of rain that led to closing of seventy roads including Interstate 29 and Highway 36.

The declaration will allow counties to get federal aid for repairs to roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure.

Twenty north Missouri counties hit by big storms September 9th and 10th have bee declared federal major disaster areas. The declaration will help counties recover from high straight-line winds and more than nine inches of rain that led to closing of seventy roads including Interstate 29 and Highway 36.

The declaration will allow counties to get federal aid for repairs to roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure.

Counties covered by the declaration are (in alphabetical order): Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Daviess, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Mercer, Nodaway, Putnam, Ralls, Shelby, Sullivan, and Worth.

 

Missouri House finds no way to challenge same-sex marriage ruling

State lawmakers have found that there is nothing they can do to fight to uphold Missouri’s prohibition of same-sex marriage, but the Speaker of the House tells Missourinet the issue might not be settled.

House Speaker Tim Jones (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Speaker Tim Jones (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Attorney General Chris Koster announced October 6 he would not challenge the ruling of a Kansas City judge that would mean Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Some Republican state lawmakers looked for ways they could step in and defend the state’s statutes and constitutional amendment against gay marriage, but House Speaker Tim Jones says they found none.

“House research and our House counsel’s office looked into that issue,” says Jones. “They determined that there is no mechanism for this; a constitutional provision that allows the legislature to intervene.”

The judge’s order becomes final Monday, and ten days remain to file an appeal after that.

Jones thinks Missouri might not be done with the issue, however, and it could come up in the legislature next year.

“The senate leaders issued a very strong statement on this. I don’t know exactly where [Speaker-elect John] Diehl and the next [House] leadership team stand, but I can tell you I’ve heard from a lot of my caucus members. This is going to be a priority for them in 2015.”

Jones believes there are “a lot of possible remedies the General Assembly as a whole could pursue,” but doesn’t elaborate on what those are. He won’t be in the legislature after the end of this year, as he is term-limited from running again in the House.

Two more court challenges to Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban are awaiting rulings.

Earlier stories:

Judge rules Missouri must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

AG:  will not appeal ruling that Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages

Drafting begins on state energy plan (AUDIO)

A series of public meetings that could shape the state’s long-term energy plan has wrapped up with a lot of talk about alternatives. The fifty-member state steering committee that has been assembled to recommend a comprehensive plan for the state’s energy future has held seven meetings and now starts putting together a report that’s to go to the Governor by next May 21.

Wind FarmEnergy Division Director Lewis Mills says many of those at meeting with the committee want to see greater emphasis on renewables and alternate sources of energy. He says trends are running in their direction, but coal will remain the dominant fuel for energy generation for a long time.  “I think we will increase quite a bit in the mid-term. But starting with 80 percent of our energy generated from coal, it will take quite some time to make any substantial inroads in that,” he says.

He says prices are dropping dramatically for solar and wind. But he says a lot of money and resources are invested in coal generation, and that means quickly switching to wind or solar power would be cost-prohibitive.

But Mills does think there will be a shift to other technologies over time.

AUDIO: Mills interview 1:13

 

 

Missouri’s Washington U tries to help patients cope with tinnitus

Washington University researchers might have found a way to help people who are bothered by hearing a constant noise deal with it.

Professor Jay Piccirillo, MD, professor of otolaryngology, and one of the participants in the tinnitus treatment study, Jacqueline Richardson (right).  (photo courtesy; Washington University School of Medicine)

Professor Jay Piccirillo, MD, professor of otolaryngology, and one of the participants in the tinnitus treatment study, Jacqueline Richardson (right). (photo courtesy; Washington University School of Medicine)

It’s called tinnitus; a condition in which patients hear a so-called phantom noise, often described as a buzzing, humming or tapping. About 80 percent of patients are able to essentially ignore it, but the other 20 percent have difficult concentrating. It interferes with work, sleep, and relationships.

Washington University School of Medicine researchers including Professor Jay Piccirillo came up a possible treatment to help people function in spite of the noise.

“If tinnitus patients were taking this drug and doing a brain training program to help strengthen the neurons, could the people on the drug actually do it faster than [those on] a placebo?” Piccirillo says the study asked.

It found that they could, and enjoyed, “a significant improvement in some tinnitus measure and a greater improvement in their self-reported cognitive problems. In other words, they were thinking better.”

The drug being used, d-cycloserine, encourages neuroplasticity – a state in which the brain is more susceptible to change. That meant it made the brain more receptive to the conditioning treatment patients underwent while using it.

“It does get into the central nervous system and works with the neurotransmitters to help the brain learn faster,” says Piccirillo.

Piccirillo emphasizes the treatment doesn’t actually fight the condition.

“All of our treatment’s been focused on getting people not to be bothered by it,” says Piccirillo. “Giving them the tools and techniques so that they can redirect away from the tinnitus and not focus on it, and not let it get in the way of their life.”

The original work only involved about 30 subjects using the brain training two days a week. He says the next step will be to repeat the experiment with a bigger test group, undergoing the treatment for longer periods.

“Using the brain fitness training program for five days instead of the shortened, abbreviated version, and see if we can get a better effect on tinnitus relief and improvement in cognition.”

The larger study would see if the same combination of the drug and the fitness program would yield the same benefits to a larger group of participants.

MO Supreme Court sets execution date for inmate Paul Goodwin

The Supreme Court has set an execution date for a man convicted of killing his former neighbor with a hammer in 1998.

Paul Goodwin (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Paul Goodwin (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

The Court has ordered that Paul Goodwin be executed December 10 for the murder of Joan Crotts.

Court documents say Goodwin had repeatedly harassed and threatened Crotts when he moved into a boarding house next to her home in St. Louis County. Goodwin was eventually evicted from that boarding house and Crotts’ daughter says Goodwin blamed Crotts for it.

A year and a half after his eviction Goodwin returned to the neighborhood and snuck in Crotts’ home through the back door while she investigated an open gate to her yard, which he was also responsible for. He stayed in her basement for hours before entering her apartment.

He forced her to perform a sex act on him before pushing her down the basement stairs and striking her in the head with a hammer.

Crotts was still alive when her daughter found her that afternoon, and was able to tell police before she died what had happened.

In addition to finding Goodwin’s fingerprints at the scene and the victim’s blood on his clothes, police found his hearing aid at the scene. Goodwin has a hearing impairment that required authorities to have a sign-language interpreter present when they interviewed him about the crime, which he confessed to at that time. Goodwin was sentenced to death in December, 1999.

Goodwin was sentenced to death in December, 1999.

Missouri is next scheduled to carry out the execution of Leonard Taylor November 19 for the 1994 murder of a man working at a gas station that he robbed.