Region and state briefs 3/22/03

Saturday, March 22, 2003

History professor to lecture March 27

Changes in rural life in Cape Girardeau County will be the topic of the third annual Friend-Bollinger Regional History Lecture at Southeast Missouri State University on Thursday.

Dr. Joe Dunn, a professor of history and politics and department chairman at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C., will lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

Dunn is a graduate of Jackson High School and holds two degrees from Southeast.

Dunn will focus on changes in the Fruitland and Leemon areas of the county.

He will base the talk on the records of his mother who taught school in the Leemon area for many years and the efforts of James Hutchison Kerr to establish an academy and a college in the Jackson and Fruitland area. Kerr went on to become an educational leader, mining engineer and historian in Colorado.

The lecture is funded by an endowment, established in 2000 by Nan and Neil Adams of Moro, Ill., to the Center for Regional History at Southeast.

Poplar Bluff man convicted of murder

POPLARBLUFF, Mo. --Despite the lack of physical evidence, a Butler County jury believed the state's witnesses and convicted a Poplar Bluff man of burglarizing Bud's Country Store in February 2002 and murdering its owner.

An unemotional Donald Ray Phillips sat silently at the defense table with his head down and his arms folded as Presiding Circuit Judge William Syler read the verdict.

On one side of the courtroom the word "guilty" brought smiles and tears of joy for the family of Gary Lee "Bud" Ayers, while on the other side it brought gasps and comments of disbelief among Phillips' family and friends.

After deliberating for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, the seven-man, five-woman jury had convicted Phillips, 50, of the Class A felony of second-degree murder, the unclassified felony of armed criminal action and the Class B felony of first-degree burglary in connection with the death of the 52-year-old Wappapello man on Feb. 22, 2002.

Southwest Missouri State raises tuition 7.8 percent

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- In what has become an unwelcome and yet familiar refrain, students were told Friday that fees at Southwest Missouri State were being increased to cover a budget shortfall.

The university's Board of Governors voted to raise tuition $10 per credit hour for classes beginning this fall. It is the fourth increase since 2001 as officials work to shore up a budget hit by state funding cuts.

For a student taking 15 hours of classes at the Springfield campus, the 7.8 percent increase would amount to an extra $150. Board member Mike Franks of Neosho apologized for voting to support the proposal.

"The legislature is passing the buck on education," Franks said. "They know we're going to increase fees because we can't lock the doors."

The tuition hikes were expected to generate about $3 million.

Workers approve collective bargaining

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Crafts and maintenance workers in nine state agencies have voted to pursue a collective bargaining agreement with the state.

The new bargaining unit will include employees in food services, custodial and grounds, facility maintenance and skilled trade jobs. They will be represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In an election Thursday, union representation was supported by 59 percent of the 600 state employees who voted.

"The vote gives those people the ability to bargain for workplace rights and other benefits," Tom Granger, an AFSCME spokesman, said Friday.

John Birch, chairman of the Missouri Board of Mediation, said Friday that there is a 10-day window in which the results of the election can be challenged. If there is no challenge, he said, AFSCME would be certified as the group's exclusive bargaining representative.

-- From staff, wire reports

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