Local briefs 2/24/06

Friday, February 24, 2006

Man pleads innocent to sodomy charges

A 57-year-old optometrist pleaded innocent Thursday to charges he sodomized a 16-year-old boy. Before Circuit Judge David Dolan, Dr. Sean de Jager, of Scott City, waived formal arraignment and entered his innocence plea. De Jager, who is being held in lieu of a $250,000 bond, is charged with 12 counts of statutory sodomy. The alleged victim in the case claims that during the extended sexual relationship, as many as 50 incidents occurred. In some incidents, the boy claimed he was paid for sexual acts. The defendant was scheduled to return for a March 23 hearing.

MoDOT holds public groundbreaking today

PATTON, Mo. --The Missouri Department of Transportation will hold a public groundbreaking ceremony at 11:30 a.m. today as officials start improvements to Route 72 in Patton. The ceremony will be held at the Security Bank and Trust at the intersection of routes 51 and 72 in Patton. The event will be the official beginning of a multiphase project to improve Route 72 from Fredericktown to Jackson. The first phase includes intersection improvements and partially realigning the road to improve the sight distance of the Route 72/51 (Patton Junction) intersection in Patton. MoDOT plans to remove part of a hill to the west of the Route 72/51 intersection to improve sight distance, and fill in a hole to the east.

Best-selling author to discuss his work March 2

New York Times best-selling author Robert Hicks will read passages and discuss his book, "The Widow of the South," on March 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cape Girardeau Central High School library. Afterward he will autograph copies of his novel while Steve Schaffner and the Cape Girardeau Central Select String Ensemble perform. He also will discuss the book at 8:30 a.m., 10:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. on March 3 in the high school library. All of the sessions are free and open to the public, said high school librarian Julia Jorgensen, who arranged the author's visit. The discussions are part of the United We Read program. This is the fifth year for the program, which encourages the community to read a selected book and then discuss it.

Meeting focuses on reducing repeat offenses

The Cape Girardeau County Extension office, 684 W. Jackson Trail in Jackson, will hold an open meeting on restorative justice practices from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, a release from the office stated. Restorative justice is a victim-focused approach to criminal justice that encourages offenders to reflect on the harm caused by their criminal actions. Such programs help reduce the rates of recidivism and allow convicted offenders to become contributing members of society, according to the release. For more information on the meeting, contact Tish Johnson, University of Missouri Extension community development specialist, at (573) 883-3548.

Prepare for disaster with National Guard's drill

The Missouri Army National Guard will play host to a mock disaster drill next week. "Operation Homeland Rescue" runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 4 at Arena Park baseball fields 10 and 11, according to a news release from the National Guard. Admission is free and the event will feature free food and various activities. Anyone 16 years and older will be allowed to participate in disaster relief training. Those interested in the training should arrive at the park by 9 a.m. to register. Also scheduled to attend the event with the National Guard were the Cape Girardeau police and fire departments, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. Several army vehicles and equipment will be on display for the public, and an Army National Guard helicopter was scheduled to land in the park.

-- From staff reports

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