February 12, 2016

Missouri Catholic Conference calls for uninterrupted funding of refugee assistance

The state House and Senate budget committees plan to take testimony from four state agencies Monday on Syrian refugees coming to Missouri. The Missouri Catholic Conference also plans to testify at that hearing.

Missouri Catholic Conference executive director Mike Hoey

Missouri Catholic Conference executive director Mike Hoey

Some lawmakers and political candidates are calling for the entrance of Syrian refugees to Missouri to be blocked, at least until the way they are screened is reviewed. They cite concern that terrorists could enter the state with those refugees and carry out attacks like those two weeks ago in Paris.

Catholic charities are among those agencies that help resettle refugees in Missouri, in part with federal money that is appropriated by the state legislature. Mike Hoey with the Conference says making sure that money isn’t blocked is a priority, so refugee assistance can continue.

“A lot of important services are provided to refugees. English language services so they can learn English, job training and placement, and when they first get here, the first 90 days they can get help with food and rent and those kinds of things,” said Hoey. “We think those services are important. They help refugees assimilate into the mainstream society so we think that’s a good thing.”

Hoey says an interruption in that money would not just impact Syrian refugees.

“There’s about three or four main agencies that resettle refugees in Missouri. Central Missouri Catholic Charities settles about 200 refugees a year. They’re Bosnians, Ukrainians, Somalians,” said Hoey.

Hoey says the screening those refugees undergo is very thorough.

“They often go to U.N. refugee settlement camps and then they go through a process with the United Nations, then they come into the United States and they’re placed in resettlement areas like camps and they get further clearance, so it’s a slow process,” said Hoey. “They do everything from identifying name, address, birth, to they do an iris scan – an eye scan on the Syrian refugees so there’s enhanced security on them, and then they have to go through the FBI Homeland Security, a number of different security checks, then they get health screenings.”

The committee has also asked to hear from the state Department of Social Services, Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Revenue, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education about what services for refugees they are connected to.

Monday’s hearing begins at 10 and will be streamed live at Missourinet.com.


Missouri celebrates Walt Disney Day

Today is Walt Disney Day in Missouri. The global icon for kids spent part of his childhood in the Show-Me State. Walt Disney lived from age six to ten on a farm in the small town of Marceline in northern Missouri.

Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Hometown Museum

Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Hometown Museum

Peter Whitehead from the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline said Disney spent formative boyhood years in the small Linn County town.

“Literally an icon, a worldwide-known figure called your little community his home. It’s incredibly important,” said Whitehead.

Although Disney’s family only lived in Marceline for four years, Disney’s ties to the town are pronounced, with the elementary school and post office named for him as well. “Main Street U.S.A” in Disney World is based off Marceline’s Main Street.

The town also provided inspiration for the film Lady and the Tramp.

There’s a celebration at the old Disney Farm set for this afternoon.

Brad Tregnago of KSSZ contributed to this story.

Missouri Department of Conservation expands pheasant hunting to statewide

Pheasant hunting is allowed in all of the state during the upcoming season. Previously, pheasants could only be harvested in the northern half and a portion of southeast Missouri.

Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

Charles Anderson with the Missouri Department of Conservation said there are two reasons for the change.

“Rather than having two zones, it simplifies the regulations and then provides opportunity in those outskirt areas,” said Anderson. “The primary pheasant zones are in northern and southeastern Missouri, but there are occasional areas where pheasants do occur outside those areas. So, it provides opportunity to sportsmen to harvest those on occasion.”

Anderson said population was not a factor in the expansion.

“It does not signify that there’s an expansion in the population or that pheasants are found throughout the state. Pheasants are not found throughout the state. We do not have, in numerous areas of the state, we just do not have the habitat that supports pheasants,” said Anderson.

The hunting season starts with a youth-only weekend October 24 and 25 and the regular season is from November 1 through January 15, 2016.

Hunting is limited to male pheasants only. The daily bag limit is two male birds and the possession limit is four.

Missouri’s unclaimed property auction generates nearly $100,000

Nearly $100,000 was generated last week during Missouri’s annual unclaimed property auction. State Treasurer Spokesperson Meghan Lewis says 2,000 items were auctioned off.

A woman bids on an item at the unclaimed property auction in Columbia

Missouri unclaimed property auction

“More than 200 individuals viewed the auction lot items. So, we are pleased with the overall results,” said Lewis.

The largest single winning bid was a Rolex watch for $2,900. Other items of interest included a set of China Panda coins sold for $2,600 and a set of Krurgerrand coins sold for $2,400.

Lewis urges the rightful owners of all items auctioned off to claim their proceeds.

“Unclaimed property for these safe deposit box owners or their heirs will be held in perpetuity at showmemoney.com for them to claim,” said Lewis.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel holds nearly $900 million in unclaimed property for about five million owners. The safe deposit box items are the only pieces sold at an unclaimed property auction. The safe deposit boxes represent less than 1% of the overall total of unclaimed property protected by Zweifel’s office.


Missouri’s fall colors expected to have good year

Missouri is predicted to have an average to above average year for fall colors. In good seasons, Missouri’s fall color slowly changes from mid-September to peak in mid-October.

Fall color on a Monroe County Farm, courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

Fall color on a Monroe County Farm, courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

Weather is a factor in how colorful the trees and shrubs are in the fall. The more sunshine during the day, the more red color is produced. The red and purple colors come when sugars are made during warm days, then trapped in the leaves during cool nights. If the weather is cloudy and the nights stay warm, there won’t be as much vivid red in such trees as maple, sweet gum, oak, and dogwood.

Trees lacking water during the growing season might drop their leaves before they color. If Missouri gets too cold early on, that kills the leaves before they can show off their colors.

In the fall, shorter days and cooler nights mean the green fades and yellow can be seen in such trees as hickory, ash, birch, maple, sycamore, cottonwood, and sassafras.

Resource Forrester Cory Gregg with the Missouri Department of Conservation said maple trees have the best coloring.

“Around the river bluffs is where you are going to find more maple. So that’s generally where you are going to try to focus as far as finding good fall color,” said Gregg. “In the urban areas, there’s a few other species. We’ve got all kinds of different ornamental species that you can find that have different colors. Another big one would be sweet gum.”

Gregg said sugar maple, red oak and ash trees in rural areas show the best colors, while sweet gum trees are one of the finest in urban areas.

For the best colors, Gregg said you can’t go wrong along one of Missouri’s major rivers.

“That’s probably where you are going to have a little more maple mixed in. You’ll have plenty of oak, hickory, ash and other species,” said Gregg.

Gregg expects leaves to turn colors and also start dropping heavily in mid to late October.