Region/state briefs 3/7/03

Friday, March 7, 2003

Southeast's plan for welcome center approved

The Missouri Tourism Commission has approved Southeast Missouri State University's plan to operate a Missouri Welcome Center at its future River Campus arts school.

Southeast is working in cooperation with the city of Cape Girardeau, the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to develop the visitors' center.

The 5,000-square-foot center would be built adjacent to the River Campus museum, university officials said Thursday.

Southeast plans to seek federal money through the Missouri Department of Transportation to cover the cost of building the center.

Dr. Ken Dobbins, Southeast president, said the affiliated welcome center is a new concept in Missouri. The River Campus center will be the first such facility in the state, Dobbins said.

More than a quarter century has passed since the state opened a new welcome center, university officials said. Missouri currently has six welcome centers. They are at Hannibal, St. Louis, New Madrid, Rockport, Kansas City and Joplin.

Another charge filed against Jackson man

Another sex crime charge was filed Thursday against a 29-year-old Jackson man already jailed in February on a statutory rape charge for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Jackson police said as a result of their intitial investigation of Ulises Gutierrez, 29, a second victim, also 14 at the time, has come forward and made a similar claim against him.

Gutierrez is now also charged with second-degree statutory sodomy. He remains in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail. The investigation is ongoing.

Russ Carnahan leaning toward congressional race

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Democratic state Rep. Russ Carnahan said Thursday he is likely to run for the St. Louis congressional seat now held by Rep. Dick Gephardt.

Carnahan is the son of former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan and the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was killed in an October 2000 plane crash while campaigning for Senate.

"I'm seriously evaluating the race and getting very good feedback," Carnahan said. "There is a good chance that after I'm done evaluating the race and visiting with party and community leaders that I would get in the race."

Carnahan said he expects to make an announcement within a few weeks.

Gephardt is not seeking reelection to his congressional seat next year because he is running for president.

Carnahan said he had discussed his potential race with Gephardt, who was encouraging and assured Carnahan that he would not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary.

House approves concealed-guns measure

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Legislation allowing Missourians 21 and over to seek permits to carry concealed weapons cleared the House on Thursday.

The 108-33 vote sent the bill to the Senate, where several similar House-passed measures have died in previous years.

Only one Republican -- Rep. Kathlyn Fares of Webster Groves -- voted against the bill. But House Democrats were divided on the measure, reflecting the rural-urban split that doomed a concealed weapons proposal put before Missouri voters in 1999.

Under the bill, people 21 and over could apply to their county sheriffs for a permits allowing them to carry concealed weapons except in certain specified places, such as churches and government buildings.

Applicants would have to take an eight-hour safety course and pass background checks, and permits would be denied to people with certain criminal histories or mental conditions.

-- From staff, wire reports

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