A bill to increase the penalty given to offenders such as the one who killed James Dodson, 69, Neosho, and his granddaughter Jessica Mann, 7, Joplin, has been re-introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Rep. Marilyn Ruestman in sponsoring the bill, formerly sponsored by Rep. Kevin Wilson. Wilson is listed as a co-sponsor.
HB 526, which received its first reading Wednesday, makes it a Class A felony to commit involuntary manslaughter if the driver accused:
-Has a blood alcohol level that is at least one and a half times the legal limit.
-If a fatality occurs as a result of that person leaving the highway.
Similar legislation is being sponsored in the State Senate by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin.
Mr. Dodson and Miss Mann died July 31 after they were hit by a car driven by Edward Meerwald, 51, Noel, who was allegedly drunk at the time. Meerwald's car left Highway 86 and struck the two as they were walking in Mr. Dodson's driveway.
Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Watson recently refiled charges against Meerwald, essentially starting the process all over again since it had become stalled with one delay after another in Jasper County Circuit Court, where it had been moved on a change of venue. Meerwald is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of resisting arrest.
The local legislators thought their bill to increase the penalties for this crime were necessary after discovering that Meerwald, if convicted, could be out of prison within a couple of years.
The Joint Committee on Education, which includes Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, will continue its work on redoing the Foundation Formula, through which public elementary and secondary schools are funded, when it meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Senate Committee Room 1.
Here is a bill that is going nowhere, but you have to give the lady credit for trying.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, has introduced a bill which would prohibit a parent, sibling or child of a statewide elected official from registering as a lobbyist. The bill is obviously targeted at Governor Matt Blunt, whose brother and stepmother are lobbyists and whose sister has indicated that she may do some lobbying.
The bill has some merit, but it is going nowhere in the Republican-led Senate.
Saga Communications, owner of KOAM-TV, will release its fourth quarter and full-year 2004 results at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, according to PR Newswire.
The fourth quarter and 2004 results for Jarden Corporation, owner of the Sunbeam plant in Neosho, will be released Thursday, Feb. 17.
More people have come to The Turner Report searching for Nexstar Broadcasting than any other subject during the past week. Approximately 70 percent of those who reached this blog by via a search engine (and who entered something other than Turner Report) were searching for Nexstar.
Other search engine terms included: Malorie Maddox, Cox Communications, John Boruk, Tracy Turner, Edward Meerwald and southwest Missouri meth.
Nexstar Broadcasting has vigorously defended its practice of establishing so-called duopolies, television markets in which it has more than one station. In the Joplin area, Nexstar owns KSNF and for all practical purposes, also owns KODE.
The company has claimed in its filings with the Federal Communications Commission that the practice has enhanced its ability to serve the public.
In comments filed Jan. 2, 2003, Nexstar argued for the relaxation of FCC rules regarding multiple ownership in a market. "Over the past several years, the number of radio and TV stations has increased; cable, DBS, DARS and Internet access have all expanded; and daily and weekly local newspapers remain readily available. Relaxation of the Local TV Multiple Ownership Rule will not impact this vast diversity of available media and likely will only increase it."
Nexstar claimed that in markets where it has arrangements with other stations it has "initiated new newscasts, expanded coverage with existing newscasts and made technical improvements to their newscasts by adding Doppler radar systems or satellite uplink trucks."
The company claimed the FCC could relax its rules and not decrease competition. "Viewers, programmers, and advertisers all have multiple media choices, not just broadcast television."
Relaxing the rules wouldn't stifle local programming, Nexstar claimed, it would increase it.
"Under Nexstar's agreements in Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, Joplin, Erie, and Peoria, Nexstar currently produces news for its own station and the Mission or Sinclair station in the market. Although the stations share some content, each station also includes news content which is unique to that station."
The filing pointed out that in Joplin and Wilkes Barre-Scranton, "although the Nexstar-owned and Mission-owned stations share a single news director, each station has its own management-level employee to ensure that a news broadcast over his/her respective station is focused on the needs of that station's viewers."
In one section of its filing, Nexstar claims that "ownership of more than one television station in a market produces substantial public interest benefits."
As an appendix to the filing, Nexstar attempted to show how its operation of two stations has benefited Joplin. "Nexstar and Mission Broadcasting, Inc., have a shared services agreement in place between Nexstar's station KSNF and Mission's station KODE-TV under which the parties have increased news coverage in the market, produced and aired the Missouri Southern University Football Coaches Show, which had not been broadcast for more than four years and resurrected "Our Kids," a locally-produced public service campaign promoting the general well-being of children in the Four-State area. In addition, KODE-TV introduced a "Toys for Kids" campaign.
Nexstar also promoted KSNF's civic involvement in a Dec. 28, 2004, filing with the FCC.
Under the title "KSNF Joplin-Pittsburg Localism Initiatives" the company listed the following:
Local News- The company listed its newscasts, said it devotes 15 percent of its daily programming to local news and added "We have an individual assigned to update our web site on a daily basis with current news. We also direct people to our web site for additional news and information."
Local Public Affairs- In this category, Nexstar trumpeted a 30-minute Saturday morning program, "It's All About Youth," and its morning show, "Hometown Today," which "highlights local public affairs and community issues on a daily basis. This is accomplished with in-studio interviews and live segments from special community events."
Programming- Nexstar noted that it pre-empted network programming to air a PSU Division II playoff game, it produces and airs the PSU coaches show Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m., it pre-empted network programming to air the second Missouri governor's debate and it broadcasts the Carthage Maple Leaf Parade every October. "This is a three and a half hour live broadcast of the state of Missouri's largest parade with 175 plus entries and 45,000 spectators."
Emergency Programming- "We have invested over $1 million in the latest Doppler radar equipment so that we can provide the public with early notice of severe weather. We have a comprehensive severe weather plan in place and go to great lengths to keep the public informed about severe weather." Nexstar also said it goes live "at any time of the day or night for on-the-scene coverage of any emergency situation," and it participates in AMBER and EAS alerts.
Station participation in community activities- In this area, Nexstar noted the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, being a Partner in Education with area schools and The Joplin Globe and broadcasting live "twelve times per year from local high schools allowing them to showcase their school."
The open letters to Cable One viewers have been removed from the home pages at the KSN and KODE websites. These had been listed on both under the "news" category, though they were clearly biased advertising copy for the stations.