One of the three Baptist missionaries murdered in Yemen has a Missouri connection. William Koehn got his training for missionary work at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. A family friend says he was planning to leave Yemen next year and retire in Texas.
Archives for December 2002
A new judge will have to hear the case against a woman in Mansfield accused of helping deliver a child although she did not have a midwife license. The baby later died. The original judge in the case against Victoria Kocher has disqualified herself because her husband has done business with the couple whose baby died. Kocher is charged with unauthorized practice of midwifery and endangerment to a child. She says she never claimed to be a midwife – that she was just a labor coach.
A Sappington man who hired a hit man to kill his wife has hanged himself in a prison cell in the state of Louisiana. Richard Abeln’s wife was killed in 1997. He was in a federal penitentiary. He had killed his wife to avoid an expensive divorce. He pleaded guilty to the murder.
The next round of cuts in funding for state services and institutions will be announced later this week. And, state government officials indicate layoffs can no longer be avoided. The state constitution forbids deficit spending by the state and Budget Director Linda Luebbering projects a $300-Million deficit without cuts in programs, services, and employees. And, the situation is even worse for the next fiscal year, where she’s suggesting a $1-Billion shortfall. The Legislature starts putting together the budget when it comes into session in January.
A non-profit alliance of groups promoting competition in the local phone markets is hoping the new session of the Legislature will see action to make competition a reality. Steve Veile is Executive Director of Show Me Competition – the alliance’s umbrella organization. He says that while choosing a long distance company is easy, looking for choice with a local phone company is not easy at all. Veile would like to see SBC – the state’s largest local phone company – sharing its network with potential competitors. He says this is justified because SBC – formerly Southwestern Bell – was allowed to operate as a profit-making monopoly for years and others should now be allowed to compete.
The Missouri National Guard is closing its ShowMe ChalleNGe program, located in Nevada, on January 15th because of state government budget cuts. The shut down will result in the laying off 44 full-time employees. ShowMe ChalleNGe began in 1998 and has graduated 830 cadets from the program designed to help “at risk” youth get a second chance at a successful life. Funding for the program has amounted to approximately $1.68-Million in federal funds and $1.09-Million in state funds.
A proposed law letting Missourians generate their own electricity and sell any surplus to utilities for the same price utilities charge customers will be circulated in petition form. Secretary of State Matt Blunt has cleared the way for the petitions to go around. Organizers will need at least 75,000 valid signatures from at least six of the nine congressional districts. Blunt says the issue is a long ways from the 2004 ballot. Televangelist Larry Rice is behind the petition. He says people can generate their own power now, but the utility will pay only about one third as much to purchase the power as it charges consumers who use it.
A series of wrecks on Interstate 44 in Southwest Missouri on Saturday has left 22 people hurt and tied up traffic for almost four hours. It started with a two-vehicle accident. Traffic was stopped, and about half an hour later another series of crashes happened, one involving six vehicles that injured seven people; then another crash ten minutes later that involved six more vehicles and injured 11 more. Then, twenty minutes or so after that, another crash that involved one vehicle slowing down for all of the mess ahead getting rear-ended. Five of the injuries are described as serious. The others were minor to moderate.
The public library in your town is not getting its share of more than $2-Million in state aid that it should be getting this year and the State Librarian thinks it’s because the Governor and the Legislature have violated the law in their efforts to balance the state budget. State Librarian Sara Parker says libraries should be getting money from the special tax on income of athletes and entertainers who live elsewhere but perform here. But this year, they’re getting none of it. The tax produces about $22-Million. Libraries are to get ten percent of that. She says the failure of the Governor and Legislature to approve the funding hurts small libraries the most becuase they have the smallest book-buying budgets.
The economic boon some Missouri broadcasters enjoyed with the fall elections might not be repeated as new federal campaign finance reform laws took effect. Broadcasters saw millions of dollars dumped into the state by third-party groups, so-called soft money, spent on ads supporting or attacking one candidate or another. Those ads are now no longer able to be run for a certain amount of time before an election. Don Hicks, President of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, does not believe the law will stand constitutional challenges national broadcast groups are bringing. Hicks says if the law does hold up, there could be a monetary impact for broadcasters. But, he says political ads can be a bit of a double-edged sword as those ads can help a station sell advertising time but at the same time, keep more lucrative broadcast contracts from being sold for those same slots. Broadcasters are required to give candidates the lowest rate given all year.