May 29, 2015

Spellers from Chesterfield, MO and Olathe, KS named co-winners as National Spelling Bee ends in a tie for the second year in a row (AUDIO)

Vanya Shivashankar (left) and Gokul Venkatachalam from Chesterfield, Mo. are the 2015 champions (photo/

Vanya Shivashankar (left) and Gokul Venkatachalam from Chesterfield, Mo. are the 2015 champions (photo/

14-year old Gokul Venkatachalam from Chesterfield, Mo., and 13-year old Vanya Shivashankar from Olathe, Ks., are sharing the title of top spellers after they went back and forth through ten-rounds of championship words.

Some of the words included bouquetière, caudillismo, thamakau, scytale, Bruxellois and pyrrhuloxia. Finally, after all of the words were used from the championship list, it was decided on Thursday that both would share the title as champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The bee had never ended in a tie for 52 years, until last year. Now it has happened two years in a row.

Vanya correctly spelled the word “scherenschnitte” (listen below)

Gokul correctly spelled the word “nunatak.” I knew it right away,” Gokul said. “I didn’t want to keep everyone waiting.” (listen below)

Each took home a gigantic trophy and over $35,000 in cash prizes.

Venkatachalam, an eighth grader, said he hopes to attend Stanford and become an entrepreneur or stockbroker, but first things first…he’s focused on the NBA Finals. Venkatachalam wore a LeBron James jersey under his button up polo for good luck and will now watch his favorite NBA player compete for a world title.

Another first in the bee was also accomplished.  Shivashankar is the first sibling of a past champion to win. Her sister, Kavya, won in 2009.

Lawmakers sue Governor to block state funding for new football stadium


Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon is being sued by a group of Missouri lawmakers over state funding that could be used for a new St. Louis football stadium. The public board that owns and operates the Edward Jones Dome is also being sued by the group. Senator Rob Schaaf, along with Representatives Rob Vescovo, Jay Barnes, Mark Parkinson, Eric Burlison and Tracy McCreery are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“We found out in January that the Governor is planning to move forward with issuing bonds that would put taxpayers of Missouri in debt. We tried all session long through different techniques to put a stop to that and we failed at every turn. Now, we are trying to make sure the law is followed through the means of a lawsuit,” said Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph).

Schaaf says taxpayer money is in the process of being spent illegally. He says the Legislature and the people should not be cut out of the process.

Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph)

Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph)

“If the state is going to go into debt by hundreds of millions of dollars, you’ve got to have the involvement of either a vote of the people or a vote of the Legislature. It can’t be any other way,” says Schaaf.

He says if St. Louis wants to build a new stadium, go ahead.

“I really don’t care if they build the stadium, as long as they don’t use state dollars to build it.”

Nixon spokesman Scott Holste says the Governor is not commenting on the matter.

The stadium is estimated to cost $985 million and at least $250 million of that money may come from the state.

New state psychiatric hospital officially under construction

The building of a new state psychiatric hospital in Fulton is now underway. Governor Jay Nixon spoke at Wednesday’s groundbreaking and says the state-of-the-art facility is critical for people with challenges.

groundbreaking1“We have a moral responsibility to its patients, their caregivers and this community. This community has been so open and accepting of the difficult mission assigned to it,” said Nixon.

Nixon says the maximum security facility will be a game changer for those suffering from severe mental illness.

“It will be a cohesive, secure and therapeutic environment. It will include a 300 bed, high security hospital,” says Nixon.

The new campus will include improved vocational and recreational rehab facilities, modern dietary services, a new administration building, an auditorium and a high efficiency heating and cooling system.

hospital1The project is estimated to cost $211 million. The Governor says an investment of this nature is vital to do and a vote of the people was not necessary.

“That’s why the way we did it over the last three years to put some general revenue in to make sure we had the planning done. When interest rates were low we made the long term investment that this facility is,” said Nixon.

Fulton State Hospital was built in 1851 and is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi River. Last year, the Legislature backed the Governor’s plan to replace the outdated and deteriorating facility with the new hospital that will be safer for patients and staff and more conducive to modern treatment.

The Department of Mental Health is slated to have the project finished by the end of 2017.

Dan Patterson, KWIX, contributed to this story.


MU study finds atmospheric release of BPA may reach nearby waterways

A University of Missouri study says chemicals released in the air by industrial sites and wastewater treatment sites could adversely affect wildlife and humans.

Chris Kassotis and his team of researchers believe atmospheric releases of BPA may create a concern for contamination of local surface water, which may lead to human and wildlife exposure.

Chris Kassotis and his team of researchers believe atmospheric releases of BPA may create a concern for contamination of local surface water, which may lead to human and wildlife exposure. (Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri)

Researchers from the University of Missouri have studied Missouri water quality near industrial sites that are allowed to release Bisphenol-A (BPA) into the air.  BPA is a chemical often used to make plastic containers that store food and beverages.  BPA has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.

Chris Kassotis and his team sampled water near locations with reported atmospheric discharges of BPA as identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We sampled at the Crooked River in Richmond, Missouri and Flat Creek near Jenkins, Missouri,” said Kassotis.  “We also sampled near other point sources of pollution, so wastewater discharge sites in four areas of the state as well.”

Kassotis said the study revealed two key points.

“We found that the BPA concentrations of Bisphnol-A were up to ten times greater than normal near sites where there had been some sort of atmospheric discharge of the chemical and there were elevated amounts of anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic chemicals in sites that had some sort of wastewater influence,” said Kassotis.

Kassotis said exposure to BPA may produce adverse health effects.

“BPA interacts with the endocrine system of animals and humans,” said Kassotis.  “BPA can lead to the development of breast and prostate cancers, obesity, other metabolic diseases, decreased fertility and reproductive health, neurological and behavioral effects such as ADHD and austism.”

The study was published in the journal, Science of the Total Environment.

Body pulled from Missouri River in Jefferson City

The Highway Patrol has confirmed a body was pulled from the Missouri River Tuesday. The description matched that of a person reported to have been seen in the river Monday night wearing a life vest and floating south of Rocheport, but investigators say the male body is too decomposed to provide an identity. The person was pulled from the water near the Noren access in Jefferson City.

missouririverThe Highway Patrol along with the Boone County Fire Protection District led the search. After 2 1/2 hours Monday evening, authorities had to suspend the search due to poor river conditions and an incoming storm. Searchers resumed the effort Tuesday.   Captain John Hotz with the Highway Patrol told Missourinet the river waters are very high and moving swiftly.

“A person can get hung up on a tree or those types of things. There are a lot of challenges there to that, but we do have marine operations troopers who are very experienced in searching those waters,” said Hotz.

He said they take reports seriously and do everything they can to exhaust all possibilities to try and locate a victim.

A hiker on the Katy Trail reported the incident Monday evening.